THANKS to Craig Thornley and Western States 100 Endurance Run



What a difference 24 hours can make, having an open mind, open communication and working for the common good.

This morning I posted a blog asking the Western States 100 Endurance Run and the RD - Craig Thornley to be equitable to blind runners who qualify for the race, and are successful in the lottery.  This afternoon I received an e-mail from Craig which led to a telephone call.  During that telephone call Craig and I discussed many points, but were able to focus on the main issue that had prompted me to spend countless weeks, spend a lot of money, and inconvenience 7 crew members to help me put together a run protesting the effective ban of blind runners at Western States.

During my conversation with Craig, we talked about many things including the Special Consideration process (which is fine with me), the requirement that blind athletes must qualify for the race like everybody else (which I agree with), the requirement that if a blind athlete is not accepted for Special Consideration they must be successful in the lottery (which I agree with), and finally we got to the topic of guides.  

The policy for guides is where we had a disconnect and an apparent miscommunication.  

I advocated for the following policy:

When a challenged athlete who needs a guide a) qualifies for and b) is accepted into the race via the lottery process, they will be permitted to have guides free of charge and the guide does not need to qualify for the race or submit to the lottery process.  The guides are not competitors in the race; they are an accommodation for the athlete to compete.

Craig and I discussed several different scenarios and possible solutions he had dreamt up to solve the guide situation.  As I listened to Craig, I shared counterpoints when his solution scenarios were ineffective.  Craig was listening to me, and he repeatedly said, "I am all about solutions", "that's what I do.  I come up with solutions all the time."  He told me that if a blind person is selected in the lottery and they need a guide, Craig would figure out a way to make that happen - even if he had to give up one of the 369 slots, but first he would lobby with legislative representatives or USFS or whatever it took to ensure the blind athlete could bring a guide as an accommodation.  I believe Craig, and he seemed genuine and authentic to me.  Craig said he would adopt the policy I advocated for and post something a public forum.  I thanked Craig and told him I have no reason to be on the Western States Trail this weekend.  I asked Craig for a suggestion of a trail nearby, since me and an entire crew would be in the area, and he told me the Tahoe Trail might be a good option.

Thanks to Craig Thornley for being open-minded, accessible and working to a mutually agreeable solution.

ONWARD!

Jason Romero is a highly sought after inspirational speaker and the 1st and only blind person to run across America.  Jason is a member of the US Paralympic Team, holds 12 world records in ultra-running, a former attorney and business executive, and a single father of 3 children.  More information can be found on Jason at www.relentlessromero.com

Comments

  1. Well done by both of you. A perfect example of how civility and dialogue can lead to win-win solutions. Good luck to both of you this weekend. Happy trails!

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  2. Good work demonstrated by all concerned. This was an insightful and educational read and would highly recommend it. Thanks for sharing!
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