FF: Most running events are started by a gun or other sound. How are things done differently for deaf athletes?
RG: Great question. They use a light system to signal the “on your mark,” “go.” A gun is still fired, which I can still hear without my hearing aids. Athletes range from completely deaf to those more like myself to some who utilize a combination of both.
FF: What would you like readers to know about the Deaflympics?
RG: It is a legitimate Olympics! In fact, I believe it is the second oldest international competition next to the Olympics. The first one was in the early 1900s. They are every four years and have events in track and field, basketball, golf, swimming, badminton, etc.
We have a fantastic set of young individuals in our country on the USA Deaf Sports Track & Field squad (I am the old guy). Getting the word out to our running communities that they are training their hearts out, and if they wish to support their Team USA, it will have a huge impact on our athletes. Many are in college and some even in high school.
FF: You also have an ambitious goal for the Boston Marathon coming up. Tell us about that and other goals for the near future.
RG: I have been wanting to break the sub-2:30 barrier in the marathon for a bit of time now. Last year I really messed up my achilles and lost a lot of training. The injury has taken over a year to really come around to a normal state, and there were still remnants of the injury at the Chicago Marathon last fall, but I was able to pull a 2:34, which is my current PB. I feel so blessed to have run a marathon in the sub 6:00 min/mile club!
With the focus on the track this past winter, I am hoping it brings an element of speed, and with my experience on the Boston course (and, God willing, the weather isn’t horrible this year!) I can creep a little closer to, if not break, the 2:30 barrier.
I might return to the Desert RATS Stage race for a sixth appearance in June and will have a summer focused on some fast road racing, such as Bolder Boulder and Fortitude 10K.
My biggest event will be the Berlin Marathon this September. With it being the WR course, I am hoping to set another PB there.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.