Featured Runner of the Month: Gaston Bédard
Local deaf-blind runner takes on Ottawa and then New York
Gaston Bédard is a deaf-blind runner who’s gearing up to run the New York City Marathon in November. It’ll be his 3rd time running the big race in the Big Apple, but to get there, Gaston is looking for members of the Ottawa running community to run and train with.
Gaston has been a runner since he got caught up in the excitement of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. That year he found a sport he loved and would later excel at.
He completed his first marathon in 1979, following it up a couple of years later by running 2:51 in the 1981 Ottawa Marathon, easily qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
But Gaston also has Usher’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leads to the loss of both hearing and vision. As he got older, his vision and hearing worsened. When he lost his ability to see in 2002 he was forced to stop running altogether.]
As many runners know, it’s hard to give up the sport that you love, and Gaston wasn’t prepared to shelve his shoes forever. In 2008, Gaston began road racing again with a running system he and a local coach devised where he holds one end of a plastic tube with foam grips and his sighted guides hold the other.
Gaston says his love and appreciation for the guides he’s run with is immense.
“Our sighted guides are very special people who help us blind and deaf blind runners accomplish incredible things,” he says. “They’re more than good runners, they rise above it all, and get us to the finish line.”
Since making his comeback, Gaston has completed over 30 races, including the Boston Marathon in 2015. And at 66-years-old, Gaston is still running and still setting goals.
“We strive to be good parents, we want to be good role models for our kids, we try to lead the way by fine example,” he said. “When you have good people around you, it is amazing what you can do”.
Gaston is currently looking for guides to help him reach his next goals – running the 2018 Ottawa Marathon half-marathon, the New York City Marathon and Canada Army Run half-marathon. He needs three guides to train with and to run each race who are comfortable at 5:30 marathon pace. Does this sound like you? Reach out and let us know!