11/23/2011, 2:27pm PST

Marathon hosts USABA national championships on Dec. 4

Nov. 23, 2011
For immediate release

Anyone looking for inspiration in the upcoming California International Marathon can find it in a small, impressive group of visually impaired runners.

For the third consecutive year, the CIM serves as the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Marathon National Championships. A field of six marathoners and 12 relay runners is expected to vie for USABA honors on Dec. 4.

They’re fast. And their stories are compelling.

Amy McDonaugh, legally blind since she was 12, didn’t start running until two years ago. But in May the 34-year-old mother of three from Irmo, S.C. won the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 14 seconds.

Stephanie Timmer of Naperville, Ill., a silver medalist in the 400 and 1,500 meters at the 2010 U.S. Paralympics Championships, brings an amazing spirit to the marathon. The 44-year-old software designer, who lost her vision as she entered adulthood, is the driving force behind Premier Literacy, which aims to raise awareness of the increasing demand for digital literacy in school and at the workplace.

And then there’s Seattle’s Aaron Scheidies, who at 29 has overcome a hereditary eye condition that’s left him with 20 percent of normal sight to become a seven-time World triathlon champion. He’s shooting for a sub-2:50 marathon.

Rich Cardillo, the USABA’s Military Sports Program Coordinator, said his group aims to uplift others.

“Our whole purpose in life is to enhance the lives of individuals blind and visually impaired by promoting sport and physical activities,” he said. “Maybe we spark an interest in their continuing this when they go back home.

“We want everybody to have a great race.”

Cardillo said CIM officials have gone out of their way to make the USABA feel welcome in Sacramento.

“They have bent over backwards to allow us to come out and do this,” he said. “They’ve allowed us to use the VIP tent at the start. That’s a great thing to have.”

The visually impaired runners will use guides to help them navigate the 26.2-mile course from Folsom to the state Capitol.

Founded by the Sacramento Running Association, the CIM is presented by Kaiser Permanente.

The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.