Braille Monitor                                                                  October 1985


Self-Respecting Blind Athlete Rejects
Second-Class Sports Classification

by Marc Maurer

Carl Nimis, a runner from Minneapolis, Minnesota, reports that in the Boston Marathon held in April of this year, special qualifying times for blind runners were established.

For the sighted, the qualifying time is two hours, fifty minutes. The qualifying time for blind runners is three hours, thirty minutes. The Marathon, a 26.2 mile race, is a test of physical fitness, stamina, and endurance. Carl Nimis, who is blind, has qualified more than once using the regular times.

Athletes in the Boston Marathon are expected to check a blank on the entry form if they are blind. Once this is done, those athletes are automatically categorized as blind and expected to perform according to the special rules established for blind runners.

Blind runners begin the race ten minutes before everyone else. Marathon officials say this is necessary so that blind runners will have a clear roadway. They also say that the blind runners must be segregated from other runners because they might be a safety hazard for other faster runners.

Carl Nimis has entered a number of races without checking the blank for blindness on the entry form. He runs the race according to the standard rules, and he runs along with the sighted. Two race directors have complained that he should not have been a part of the major race and should have run in the segregated race for blind athletes. However, Carl refuses to do this. He insists that the standard established for all other runners must apply to him. He insists that he can compete on terms of equality with sighted runners.

Because of the special rules for the blind, race officials and the members of the press automatically assume that Carl's time in the Marathon is close to three hours and thirty minutes. Because some blind people have asked for extra time and special treatment, all blind runners are assumed to be less capable and less competent than their sighted counterparts. Carl Nimis is doing what he can to change this image and demonstrate the competence of blind people to perform as athletes without special rules.