Geoff puts his best foot forward – 71-year-old blind man preparing to run his first ever half marathon
Wednesday 6th February 2019 @ 15:57 by Lee Wild
News Stalybridge

A Stalybridge says “you’re never too old to try new things” as he prepares for his first ever half marathon aged 71.

Geoff Clarke, who is completely blind, is taking on the challenge in aid of Francis House Children’s Hospital.

The Co-op Academy governor is running the Oulton Park Half Marathon on the 3rd of March and say’s it’s an important cause he’s running for.

“I want to run my first half marathon at the age of 71 and being totally blind and I decided that I should raise money for a good cause whilst doing it.” Said Geoff.

“A lot of my voluntary work is relating to school I thought that Francis House Children’s Hospice would be a good cause to raise money for.

“It’s probably the only children’s hospice in the local area and they do a lot of very good work. I can’t think of anything better than to help the children.”

Geoff is a comparatively new runner, staring just over ten years ago aged 60. He’s ran with local groups in that time but March’s half marathon is his biggest ever undertaking.

When asked what made him take on the challenge, he said: “This particular challenge – probably because I’m a bit mad I suppose!

“getting older you feel the need to challenge yourself a bit more. I first restarted running shortly after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to try and lose some weight and hopefully improve things – which I succeeded in doing.”

Geoff’s task is made even more difficult by his profound blindness, but he runs with the help of a partner who guides him using a piece of rope, a system which Geoff says: “proves to be quite easy.”

The retired solicitor has been out pounding the pavement in preparation for the run.

“I tried to build up my milage last year so I did the first 10 mile run about 6 months ago. I’ve done a number of 5’s and 8’s and I got back to 10 again last weekend which I was quite pleased with because I had a cold all last week.” He said.

“I don’t desire to run a marathon because I don’t want to be running all day.”

It’s a family affair for Geoff, who has enlisted the services of his grandson to help with his training.

Jack, 15, was first introduced to running by his grandfather 6 years ago and say’s he’s “One of my biggest inspirations in life.”

He said: “He’s always been one of the kindest people that I’ve ever known and as he said it’s one of the best causes.

“I’m so proud, honestly. I can’t explain.”

Geoff is looking to raise £1,000 for Francis House Children’s Hospital and has already collected over £150. To donate for yourself, visit his GoFundMe page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/geoff-clarke71.