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Visually impaired Boston Marathon runner and his guide give an update on race


On Sunday's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, we met two runners, Nafij Ahmed and Josh Bard. They were gearing up for the Boston Marathon on Monday, but there were a couple of challenges. One big one - Nafij has retinitis pigmentosa, which means his eyesight is like constantly having tunnel vision. So he needed a guide. Cue Josh Bard. We had to know. How did yesterday's race go?

JOSH BARD: My name is Josh Bard.

NAFIJ AHMED: My name is Nafij Ahmed. The race went mostly well for me. The first half felt really good. Josh and I were cruising. We completed the first half in under two hours.

BARD: You know, a lot of the things that we didn't train for were the things that were really challenging. At least Nafij and I did a lot of work on communication and what to do in certain circumstances or if we hit a couple roadblocks. But we didn't talk about what would happen if one of us cramped and one of us got really uncomfortable along the race. And that's what happened.

AHMED: Went for about four miles, and then it was some major cramping. And so at mile 21, 22, we went into a medical tent and spent about 10 minutes there.

BARD: I think there's a lot of soul-searching for both of us. I know specifically for Nafij that it was a real question of whether or not he could make it to the end. And while I don't know the pain that he was feeling, I could see it in his face. I could hear it when he was getting stretched out. For me, it was really challenging emotionally.

AHMED: This was my ninth marathon, and I'd never stopped at a medical tent before. But there's a first for everything.

BARD: And it was my first marathon, and it was grueling, and it was hot. But we got to that finish line. Our time was five hours and nine minutes.

AHMED: I do feel somewhat accomplished, but it was special to do it with Josh. We had so many friends and family. And it was just such a memorable time.

BARD: I ran the Boston Marathon with Nafij Ahmed.

AHMED: And I ran the Boston Marathon with my friend Josh Bard.

KELLY: Love it. And congratulations to you both.

(SOUNDBITE OF KACEY MUSGRAVES SONG, "OH, WHAT A WORLD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Jordan-Marie Smith
Jordan-Marie Smith is a producer with NPR's All Things Considered.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.