Monthly Archives: March 2019

Runner & guide dogs run marathon

Blind runner & guide dogs run a half marathon

Blind runner, guide dog trio makes history in NYC Half Marathon

Thomas Panek and his running guide dogs Westley, Waffle and Gus made history on Sunday in the 2019 New York City Half Marathon.

Panek, the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was the first blind runner to complete the half marathon with guide dogs.
His trio of Labrador Retrievers — who took turns pacing him along the 13.1 mile course — were the first four-legged athletes in the race.
“It’s really a team,” Panek said. According to the race website, Panek’s team finished the race in just shy of two hours and 21 minutes. An avid runner, Panek had no intention to give up the sport, even after losing his eyesight in his early 20s.
Thanks to volunteer human guides, he has since completed 20 marathons. Still, Panek missed the feeling of independence, which ultimately inspired him to start a formal training program for running guide dogs.
“It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run,” he said. “It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not.”

Journey to the finish line

In 2015, Panek established the first-of-its-kind “Running Guides” program at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a certified nonprofit school in Westchester County, New York that has trained guide dogs for the visually impaired for decades. Twenty-four dogs have completed the program and another 12 are halfway to graduation. Once trained, Guiding Eyes matches each dog with an applicant and helps train the new team free of charge.
But only a handful of the dogs are cut out for the Running Guides program, which requires an even more rigorous level of fitness and discipline. Running outside presents a unique challenge — the dogs have to navigate terrain changes, stairs and curbs all while tuning out city distractions and noise.
When it came time to choose his team for the race, Panek turned to the Guiding Eyes’ team of professional trainers, who handpicked sister-brother duo Waffle and Westley, two of the most active dogs in the pack.
“The bond is really important. You can’t just pick up the harness and go for a run with these dogs,” Panek said. You’re training with a team no matter what kind of athlete you are, and you want to spend time together in that training camp.”
They’ve been training together for many months, rain or shine. Even the arctic blast that gripped New York in January didn’t stop Panek and his canine companions, who took to the Armory Track.

Race day

The dogs set their own pace and each tackled a different leg of the race. Gus, Panek’s longtime guide dog, was chosen to run the final 3.1 miles and retire at the finish line in Central Park.
“It’s a little emotional for me because he’s been there with me the whole time,” Panek said.
Thomas Panek completes the 2018 BAA 5K in Boston, led by his guide dog Gus.
Panek hopes his 14-legged team will inspire others with ambulatory and visual disabilities to keep pushing the bounds of what they think, or are told, is possible.
“Running with your dog is wonderful and if they can do a job while they’re doing it and sure, it happens to be 13.1 miles through the streets of New York city but we’re going to get it done. I know we will.”

Elevate Physical Activity Trade Show

ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock
One, Western Gateway, London, E16 1XL
9.30 am - 5.30 pm
+44 (0)1737 855000
08th May 2019
Register FREE NOW



Elevate is the meeting place for UK’s growing physical activity sectors.

Join 1000’s of senior decision makers from independent and multi-site gyms, leisure centres, health clubs, fitness studios, sports clubs, hotels, schools, universities, sport science, physiotherapy and private practice to source the latest equipment


Register FREE NOW to learn more, network and discover the latest innovations in physical activity

To register to attend the free trade show then please visit the Elevate website

Opening Times

Wednesday 8 May, 9:30 – 17:30
Thursday 9 May, 9:30 – 16:30

Event Entrance

Look for hall S5 entrance when you get to ExCeL.


ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, One Western Gateway, London, E16 1XL

London Overground

The DLR and Jubilee Line can be connected from multiple Overground lines such as Stratford, Canada Water, and Shadwell. It is also possible to join the Overground and travel to ExCeL London from Euston station.

Docklands Light Railway

Take the Docklands Light Railway to Custom House station at ExCeL. Trains stop at the covered walkway leaving less than two minute walk to the entrance of the venue.

London Underground

The Jubilee Line and the DLR are the quickest routes to ExCeL London.

Jubilee Line – Alight at Canning Town and change onto a Beckton bound DLR train for the short journey to Custom House.

Click here to plan your journey

Emirates Airline Cable Car

The UK’s first urban cable car, known as the Emirates Air Line, connects ExCeL London to the O2 and North Greenwich tube station. All exhibitors and visitors to shows at ExCeL can use the cable car for just £2 single fare. To redeem this exclusive discount, just show your event pass to the Emirates Airline staff.


If you are planning to cycle then there are 60 bike racks available at the venue. These are located near to the east entrance underneath the stairway connecting Level 0 to Level 1.


If you are planning to walk all or some of your route then please refer to the TFL Walking Guide. It is often quicker and more enjoyable to walk from a nearby station. You can plan your walking route online at….

By Car

There is adequate parking at ExCel London, you can make use of 3,070 parking spaces at a £20 flat tariff for up to 24 hours.

For more information on programming your Sat Nav with the correct postcode and parking information please click on the following link –…


We have great news to share, Metro Blind Sport has been chosen as the charity of the year for the UK’s largest physical activity trade show, Elevate.

Recognising an official charity for the first time at this year’s event, Elevate aims to promote disability sport and physical activity to the 10,000+ expected attendees through leveraging its partnership with Metro Blind Sport.

Elevate takes place at the ExCel in London on the 8th and 9th May. 1000’s of visitors and key decision makers will be attending this year’s event, where there will be over 350 leading fitness-related exhibitors and over 300 speakers delivering a huge range of seminars and workshops.

Martin Symcox, CEO of Metro says “We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Elevate and are so thankful for their support. Being their nominated Charity of Year for 2019 provides an incredible platform for Metro Blind Sport to raise awareness of our services, educate people on the sporting opportunities available for blind and partially people, encourage support for campaigns and of course to raise funds for our charity.

Providing safe, accessible and high-quality sport and physical activity opportunities for blind and partially sighted people is at the core of what we do. What better way to raise awareness of the opportunities and to highlight the barriers that exist for blind and partially people, than at the UK’s leading physical activity trade show.”

To register to attend the free trade show then please visit the Elevate website

Metro will have a stand at the event and if any Metro members would like to volunteer for a few hours on either of the two days then please email


BBS: Try a VI Sports Day!

Try VI Sports Day with British Blind Sports
Royal National College for the Blind, Hereford
11.00 am - 4.00 pm
01926 424247
17th April 2019

Come along to the British Blind Sport Try VI Sports Day!

British Blind Sport are delighted to bring an event offering a taster of visually impaired (VI) sport, open to both visually impaired and fully sighted individuals.

Date: Wednesday 17th April  Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Venue:  Royal National College for the Blind, Hereford
Contact: Lijana Kaziow Young Leaders Officer on 01926 424247 or email

Try cricket, football, goalball, guide running, tennis and more! 

This FREE event, delivered in partnership with the Royal National College for the Blind will be a fun-filled day of activity enabling VI children and adults to have a go at a wide range of sports and activities. In addition to this sports coaches, officials and professionals will have the opportunity to explore VI sport through the experience of a young person with sight loss, increasing their understanding and raising the profile of VI sport.

British Blind Sport are delighted to bring an event offering a taster of visually impaired (VI) sport, open to both visually impaired and fully sighted individuals. British Blind Sport (BBS) is the national charity supporting blind and partially sighted people to get active and play sport. The Try VI Sports Day, delivered by BBS See My Voice Young Leaders, aims to help more VI people to find their next sporting adventure in Herefordshire and the surrounding areas as well as raising the profile and understanding of VI sport among sports coaches, officials and professionals.

The charity is pleased to work in partnership with the Royal National College for the Blind to deliver a fun-filled day of activity that enables children and adults to have a go at a wide range of sports. This event is kindly funded by Sport England and the #iwill Fund, which is made possible thanks to joint funding from the government and the National Lottery Community Fund. There will be an opportunity to try cricket, football, goalball, guide running and tennis with more sports to be confirmed very soon. Following the event, BBS will support those that attended to identify what local clubs and sporting facilities are available to them to encourage all attendees to continue to play sport regularly.

The Hereford Try VI Sports Day is free to attend will take place on Wednesday 17th April 2019, 11 am to 4 pm at the Royal National College for the Blind, Hereford, HR1 1DT.

British Blind Sport is welcoming anyone living with a visual impairment to attend as well as extending the invitation to any sports coaches, officials and professionals or anyone interested to learn more about VI sport and get a taster for themselves. Sighted participants will be able to explore VI sport through the experience of a young person with sight loss to help gain a greater understanding of what reasonable adaptations can be made to help make sport and physical activity more accessible.

Registration is required prior to the event and is available by completing a short online registration forms below:

If you are visually impaired and would like to attend this event, please complete this online form.

For further details, contact Lijana Kaziow Young Leaders Officer on 01926 424247 or email

Calling VI participants…

A fun-filled day for blind and partially sighted children and adults to come and have fun, meet new people and try a range of VI sports as well as supporting more VI people to find their next sporting adventure in Herefordshire and the surrounding areas.

Download the PDF poster here.
Download the accessible Word document poster here.

Are you a sports professional, coach, and official

Are you a sports professional, coach, and official or have ever imagined what it is like to play visually impaired sport?

Do you want to learn how to make sport sessions more accessible for people with sight loss?

Develop a greater appreciation for blind and partially sighted athletes by delving into the world of VI sport at the British Blind Sport Try VI Sports Day.

If you are a fully sighted and would like to improve your knowledge of, and explore VI sport through the experience of a young person with sight loss, please complete this online form.

Download the PDF poster here.
Download the accessible Word document poster here.

More updates form British Blind Sport can be found at




Participants Needed at PAMELA

Participants Needed at PAMELA

Participants Needed: Investigating and Comparing the Behaviour of Visually Impaired Participants in Unidirectional and Opposing Crowd Flows

 Where:  Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA), Station Road, London, N19 5UN

The closest station is Tufnell Park Station (a 5 minute walk) and a meet and greet at the station can be arranged for all participants.

When: 9th and 10th April   09.00-18.00

Participants can attend either or both days for a minimum of 1 hour

Participants Required:  Open to participants with and without a visual impairment

Participants must be over 16 years old and have no cognitive or mobility impairments

About the Experiment:  This is a key experiment in my upcoming PhD research, which aims to improve the safety of people with a visual impairment in an evacuation.

The experiment involves the observation of visually impaired participants in different pedestrian flows. Both visually impaired and normally sighted participants are to walk across a platform in different configurations, individually and in groups. The experiment will be recorded via overhead cameras and advanced automatic motion tracking, allowing for the analysis of each participant’s movements. Heart rate data will also be collected via small wristwatch-like devices, though participants can choose to opt out of this step. All data collected will remain completely anonymous and used solely for this research.

The outputs of this experiment should greatly help designers and engineers working with a whole range of environments to understand the behaviour of people with a visual impairment, thus potentially saving lives during an emergency evacuation.

As a severely visually impaired person myself, this research is very close to heart and I truly hope it can make a difference in evacuation designs in the future. I am therefore extremely grateful for your participation.

All travel expenses will be covered, lunch will also be provided.

To confirm your attendance or for any additional information, please contact:

Jean Marc Feghali  Email: Tel: 07447 172737

All activities during the experiment are voluntary and participants are free to cease participation at any point without providing a reason.


MMARAP’s Programme for RSBC!

MMARAPs Programme for RSBC

Confidence Boost Programme for Royal Society for Blind Children

Mixed Martial Arts for Reform and Progression (MMARAP) worked with the Royal Society for Blind Children to provide a tailor-made programme that helped to develop and improve the confidence of blind children and make them feel safer in public.

The especially designed sessions which were held at the MMARAP premises helped the children to break down barriers, learn new skills, beat depression, combat mental health issues, achieve positivity, better discipline and above all have lots of fun while doing so.

MMARAP’s 2019 programmes for the public caters for all ages, genders, disabilities and conditions.  These include the very popular “Super Tuesday” session for women. An “women-only” session that are led by female instructors and ideal for women of all ages and sizes.

In addition to tailored programmes for individual and groups, MMARAP offers:

 The Super Tuesday Sessions Anchorinclude:

  • Females only from 1pm – 2pm for all ages
  • Kids from 4.30pm – 5.15pm – Ages 6yrs – 14yrs
  • Mixed group from 5.30pm – 6.30pm (male and female). All ages 40+ for the non-disabled, Deaf/Blind and disabled. Wheelchair access is available

Date: Every Tuesday
Where: Ringcross Community Centre, 60 Lough Road, Islington, N7, 8RH
For more information contact details listed below:
Email:  Telephone: 0333 0030 520

MMARAP was founded in 2012 by Jonathan Buffong, a published author, mixed martial arts athlete and enthusiast.  The company is committed to supporting, training and mentoring young people and using Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as a tool to develop essential life skills such as confidence, focus, discipline and respect.

The organisation is unique as it delivers its programmes to disabled and non-disabled individuals (and groups), providing high quality training and mentoring to assist with their development and empowerment.

It has a mission help young people gain confidence, employability skills and focus through its programmes.

For further information, please contact Jonathan Buffong by email or telephone +44 (0)771 342 1157 (W)