The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon begins at the Mount Vernon Estates and finishes across the Woodrow Wilson bridge at the National Harbor. Race day is Oct. 7, starting at 7:30 a.m. For more information visit: wilsonbridgehalf.com.
Alexandria The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon is back for its third installment on Sunday, Oct. 7, and it has come a long way since the early days of shoestring budgets.
With a prize purse of $15,000 for top winners, as well as bonus perks for semi professional American athletes, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon has much to offer.
“Running gives visually impaired people a sense of freedom.” — Richard Hunter, half marathon record holder with the United States Association of Blind Athletes.
Despite the notable talent the race attracts, organizers remain committed to a half marathon open to all. Nowhere is this more evident than the 18 runners set to compete this year who are visually impaired or blind.
“When we created the race in 2010 we figured we really wanted to make a difference,” said Steve Nearman executive director of Endurance Enterprises LLC and founder of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. “We received a generous grant from the National Industries for the Blind the following year, and the race has just blossomed.”
Charities To Support
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon provides opportunities to support local charities, including Autism Speaks, Back on My Feet, The Child & Family Network Centers, Rebuilding Together, The Running Brooke Fund and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. For more information and to give, visit: wilsonbridgehalf.com.
Organizers hope to meet a long-term goal of 100 racers who are visually impaired or legally blind. Long distance racing closes the misperception gap of people who are visually impaired or blind, and demonstrates the abilities of a minority group disproportionately affected by unemployment.
“People who are blind or visually impaired have a lot to gain from running in a race,” said Mike Johnson, a spokesman for the Alexandria-based National Industries for the Blind. “There are many myths and misconceptions about the abilities of people who are blind, and running a half marathon is just one of many ways to showcase that people who are blind or visually impaired are as capable as their sighted counterparts.”
For Richard Hunter, the reigning half marathon record holder in the B2 division with the United States Association of Blind Athletes, the benefits of running transcend the physical. “Usually visually impaired people are bound logistically, they move around slower with a white cane or guide dog. When they run with a sighted guide they are running fast and able to go where they are not really able to otherwise,” said Hunter. “Running gives visually impaired people a sense of freedom.”
Challenges to running for people who are visually impaired or blind often include an inability to link up with sighted guides. For those who do, the connection is deeply rewarding.
“Volunteers really make a huge difference in the lives of people with vision loss,” said Hunter. “Volunteering is an opportunity to transform the lives of people who are visually impaired, and at the same time transform their own life.”
Registration for the Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon will remain open up to race weekend. Expect road closures along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the day of the race. For more information visit: wilsonbridgehalf.com. For those interested in guided running with people who are visually impaired or blind, the Cdifferent Foundation provides a platform for linking up. For more information visit Cdifferent.org.