Ben

My Activity Tracking

1,000
kms

My target 1000 kms

My Story. (please scroll down further to follow my daily progress)

In 1980 I was born with an eye condition called Aniridia, which results in other eye complications such as Glaucoma and Cataracts. Fred Hollows came to the rescue during my admission to the Children's Hospital when I was a baby, diagnosing my condition and prescribing treatment that would preserve my limited vision.

As a result, I believe I began my life seeing the world differently to most people. I was very short sighted and could only see colours and shapes, but what I'm really talking about is refusing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. I think I learnt that from watching Fred, he fearlessly fought against injustices found within disadvantaged communities around the globe.

I have now lost all of my remaining sight and I live in complete darkness. Yes, it's sad, but at least I had some useable vision over the past 40 years, and we should never take the little things we do have for granted. Despite being under the best ophthalmological care of Fred's colleagues, my sight unfortunately cannot be saved, but for many others it can.

This August, I'll be pushing myself to the limit running to raise money for The Fred Hollows Foundation. I don't have the medical training to restore sight, but I might just have the legs to go the distance in Fred's Big Run. Reaching my goal of 1000km is going to be painful, but it's nothing in comparison to the horrific suffering of those around the world who are needlessly blind. Can you believe all that holds them back from sight is $25 for the surgery?

So on 1st August, my fight for sight begins. Join me on this epic journey as I try to run 1000km to help more than 100 people. Dare to dream big! In true Fred spirit, it's time to roll up our sleeves and get the job done!

Together we can make a difference, it just takes a bit of teamwork. I'll need your support every step of the way, you can run with me, or you can sponsor me. Every donation motivates me to run another kilometer for the cause. Let's do it together! Let's do it for Fred!

THANK YOU

My Achievements

My Updates

Day 31

Monday 31st Aug

1000km completed with my last 32km run today. I woke up early with a burst of energy and excitement, but I tripped, I stumbled, I fell, over and over again. I could barely call it running, but each time I hit the deck of the treadmill, I got back up and kept going. My body is a mess, collapsing on a treadmill in motion is never pretty, and I'll be nursing my wounds for some time to come. But I did it! I never gave up! I finished Fred's Big Run!

How do I run 1000km in a month? By having a cause worth fighting for. I hate being blind. I hate others being blind. I have shared my experiences with you in my daily updates, how I do things, and how challenging they are for me to do without sight. Running 1000km is possible when you know doing so will save many others from suffering these battles with simple every day activities. I invite you to read through my updates to see for yourself how hard it can be. Then ask yourself the question, what is harder, running 1000km or being blind?

Day 30

Sunday 30th Aug
I feel like death.I'm sleeping about 20hrs a day. Can't eat any food just drink lots of water when I run. That second wind hasn't kicked in yet maybe tomorrow. Every stride is excruciatingly painful. I know there's only 1 more day to go, but I honestly feel like I can't take another step, I'd quite happily just lie down and sleep for a few months. But those blind people are counting on us to keep going, so I will.

How do I perceive beauty? Among many splendid things, I find exquisite beauty in the sound of waves at the beach, the touch of warmth from the sun, the smell of newborn babies, the taste of Mum's cooking, and the calmness of seeing nothing at 

Day 29

Saturday 29th Aug

I survived running the full 32km today. I would recommend to anyone thinking of running 1000km in a month to be in pretty good shape before attempting a stunt like this, it definitely requires a level of fitness that I don't currently have. I'm eating Panadol for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How do I eat food? With my mouth obviously. But it's how I get it to my mouth that can be challenging. I invite everyone to try eating a meal with their eyes closed to see what it's like for me. Cutlery is useful, but much easier to use with sight. I much prefer eating with my hands, that way I can feel the food on my plate, select what I want to eat, choose the bite size, and prevent it falling off my plate. If I use cutlery it can get very messy, and it's difficult to know from just holding the handle of the utensil if there is actually any food on the end of it. So many times at a restaurant in the company of others I have felt embarrassed to put an empty fork or spoon to my mouth, or to have it spill all down the front of my clothes into my lap. The only time this doesn't matter is when I'm with a blind date.

Day 28

Friday 28th Aug

Stepping up for Fred tomorrow with the last push before the end, I'll be running for 4hrs at a speed of 8km p/h clocking up a total of 32km each day. For the final 3 days of this challenge there will be no walking for me, just entirely running to reach my goal of 1000km this month. We have covered more than 900km together on this journey and helped more than 120 people to restore their sight. It's an amazing effort team! My legs are as wobbly as jelly, but feel as heavy as concrete. I cannot describe the agony in words, it's only something you can experience.

How do I read braille. As I can't see to read print, I need some other form of written language, and that is the raised text on the page known as braille. Each letter is made up of a number of dots, and the alphabet follows a simple pattern. It takes a lot of practice to remember which dots represent each letter, and to recognise several of them together making a word. It can take a long time to master reading sentences and paragraphs in a book, and your finger tips that feel the dots gradually become more sensitive to feel the individual letters more quickly. Remembering all 26 letters of the alphabet in a series of dot formations is hard enough, but then you need to learn which pattern of dots mean numbers and punctuation symbols. It sounds complicated, but like any language it can be learnt and perfected through practice.

Day 27

Thursday 27th Aug

I'm now in a steady rhythm of getting up early to get the 24km run out of the way, and then find time later on to walk the remaining 8km as a more relaxing warm down session. This morning I had to get it all done at the same time as I had a long journey back to the city to collect the last of my personal belongings from my unlivable mouldy house. It was emotional when leaving with the realization I probably won't be coming back, and I had lived at this house for the past 15 years so there's some history. I'm just glad I did all the running and walking this morning because after arriving back in the country late at night I'm too exhausted to do anything but sleep. Being emotional really drains your energy, and I think when you're nearing the end of such a long challenge such as Fred's Big Run it's completely normal for a lot of participants to easily become overwhelmed with emotions. As sad as I feel, exercising can be a great way of releasing all that built up emotion and help me feel a lot happier about being healthy.

How do I find my way around? Living in the city for so long, I have learnt to map out things in my mind, it's like having an inbuilt GPS. I discover landmarks that help me to recognize where I am and how to get somewhere, they don't need to be a famous landmarks, it can be as simple as a fence or wall that feels a particular way, I often take note what it is made of and any interesting features to my sense of touch. Other times it can be sounds, such as certain birds that live in a specific tree and sing a unique song, although this is not something I rely upon heavily because birds frequently move around. It's more reliable to feel fixed objects that are unlikely to move or change, such as the differences in ground surfaces that I can feel with the end of my white cane. It just comes with practice I suppose, and learning from mistakes. The heat from the sun can be a very useful tool in determining which direction I'm going, much like a compass. I know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so depending on the time of day I'm pretty good at telling if I'm on track to reach my destination. However sometimes the sun isn't available, like on the underground train network. With practice I have learnt the public transport system quite well, so I have familiarised myself with all the local railway stations. When travelling on a train, I consider which direction it is heading, perhaps north or south, and then walk through the train to place myself in the carriage closest to the stairs or escalators to get back up to street level, once up there I know exactly how to navigate the obstacles and people to find the precise exit I need. My white cane helps me to get around a lot, but I also use a technique called echo location, which basically means I make noises such as tapping, humming, or whistling, to hear the echo bounce off objects around me, it's a cool way of seeing without seeing.

Day 26

Wednesday 26th Aug
If this were a marathon, we're now at the stage of the race where there's an eerie silence, nobody is talking anymore the chatter and excitement has all died down, all the runners are focusing on their breathing and pushing through the pain, there is an unsaid acknowledgement amongst the competitors that they are struggling together, and all you hear is the heavy slap of tired feet on the ground as they move towards the finish. It's probably the most boring part of the race, with nothing to listen to I zone out and think about other things to distract myself from the physical and mental exhaustion. So that's about where I am now in this challenge, just going through the motions and counting down the kms.

How do I spectate other sports? I enjoy all sports, some more than others, but all are worth spectating. I might listen to the football or cricket on the TV, but I get a much more detailed commentary of these matches on the radio. As with most sports, it's more fun playing them than watching them, and participating in the game gives me an up close hands on experience of what's really going on. For example, it's much more interesting running 1000km than reading about someone doing it. Sometimes I will attend a sporting match, I like the atmosphere amongst the crowd, but it can be difficult to follow what's happening out on the field. I usually take along a pocket size radio and listen to the match with headphones, the only downside is the 7sec delay with live broadcasts, so the crowd will suddenly jump up and cheer, and then 7sec later as they're just sitting back down I'll jump up and cheer. Oh well, as long as my team wins that's all that really matters.

Day 25

Tuesday 25th Aug
Unfortunately I have nothing new to report, just the same old stuff I do every day, running and walking. The most exciting part of my day is trying to stay awake long enough to post these daily updates for you, that's a challenge in itself. When writing I average about 10 micro sleeps per sentence. Yeah all this exercise is really knocking me around. There's barely any fuel left in the tank, almost running on empty.

How do I cross the road? The answer is very carefully. I'll admit it's scarey at times. Living in the city I always cross at the traffic lights where I can hear the sound from the button that indicates it's safe to walk across. I always feel the pulse beating inside the arrow on the button, this beats faster when it's my turn to cross, this is very helpful because relying upon the sound alone can be confusing if you have another traffic light beeping beside you, this is often the case at the corner of a cross intersection where I can choose to either cross to my left or right. Yes it's confusing, and you don't want to make a fatal mistake. Occasionally I'll come to a smaller street or lane without traffic lights, I just have to listen carefully for cars and cross when I think it's clear. In the country where I'm staying at the moment there's no traffic lights at all, the streets don't even have footpaths or gutters, and the cows have the right of way. I feel a bit safer here because the roads aren't as busy as the city, I can easily hear a horse and cart coming from miles away and it gives me plenty of time to cross the road. The biggest problem I find on city streets these days is the electric cars making no noise, I can't hear them coming, and with so many drivers being distracted by their mobile phones it's only a matter of time before I'm run over. But I'm safe for now in the country, there's no quiet tractors going around, the town still doesn't have electricity yet.

Day 24

Monday 24th Aug
They say to keep it simple stupid, and that's what I must do. I'm sometimes spending more time on these daily updates than I am on running. It's now the business end of the challenge and I need to focus more of my attention on getting across the line. So I'll try to keep these updates short and sweet, I'm just doing the same old distance, speed, and time, nothing really exciting to report, nope can't think of anything funny to say either.

How do I remember information? I do rely a lot on my memory to store information. I'm in the habit of remembering phone numbers, like people did back in the olden days before smart phones with contact lists. I don't remember the number as such, rather the pattern I draw with my finger when dialling the number, it somehow helps to jog my memory. I also remember my shopping list, but not every item, just the first letter or so. i might want to buy Fruit, Rice, Eggs, and Dairy, which spells FRED. I only need to recall the word FRED to trigger my memory of each item. I play all sorts of memory games like this in my head to make it fun and easy to remember important things. I've heard another useful way is to tie a piece of string around your finger, I've often tried this, but can't remember what the string is for? Whatever method you use, it helps to learn that skill when you're young. I was taught to touch type at the age of 5 years old, back then I thought this whole computer craze would never last, but it's proven to be a valuable skill in this modern world of technology. I was going to share another example with you, but I've forgotten what it is.

Day 23

Sunday 23rd Aug
I'm struggling. It's only just occurred to me that it's not normal for an average human to run 1000km in a month. But you know that's what makes Fred's Big Run all the more special, that average every day people like myself are pounding the pavement  to raise some much needed funds for the cause. I'm not working at the moment, nor do I have a family to care for, so I currently have the freedom to attempt a crazy stunt of this ridiculous size. I'm in full admiration of those taking on Fred's Big Run while juggling their family and work commitments at the same time, that's a gutsy effort! For example, Josh Phillips from team Forest is grinding out a heroic finish to meet his goal. I'm reliably informed that this quiet achiever, though supported by family and friends, is carrying serious injuries and battling antarctic conditions in Tassie to help restore sight. Coming home tired each day from work, despite a hot meal waiting for him on the table, Josh still pushes himself to limp outside braving the cold night air to notch up a few kilometres for Fred. Nobody might really notice his efforts deep within the forest aloft those dark icy mountains, but his little girl does, and that's what makes him a hero!

How do I see people? I can't physically see them, but I get a sense about them. It's hard to be judgemental when you can't see someone's ethnicity from their appearance, or make assumptions about someone's socio economic status by the value of their clothing. Instead, everyone is fairly similar to me, the only real difference being their personality, attitude, and behaviour. I assess people as being either nasty or nice, whether they are genuine or fake, and if they can be trusted or not. I've become an expert on gauging these indicators when listening to someone's voice. It's not entirely accurate, but it's a great survival skill. I'm prepared to say that most fat and ugly people have a heart of gold. It's what's inside that truly counts. I often wonder how society would measure the worth of people if everyone were blind?

Day 22

Saturday 22nd Aug

These early morning starts have been freezing cold, waking up at 3:00am, taking an hour to get out of bed and defrost, then jumping on the treadmill to run at 4:00am. It's very unpleasant getting up during winter at the crack of dawn, but I find it's a good time to run because the sun can get quite warm during the day and my body is already over heating doing this intense amount of exercise. I've been very lucky so far to avoid getting any running injuries, the muscles and joints in my legs have taken a beating but are still working fine at this stage, and remarkably I've somehow avoided any blisters on the feet which you would well and truly expect by now. I don't know what the secret to my success has been, I sleep a lot, eat a lot, and run a lot. Living this type of existence affords me the time to think a lot, trying to solve all of the world's problems, and I also find myself smiling a lot, because although I happen to complain a lot about how tough it is, deep down inside there's part of me that really enjoys this challenge.

How do I encounter dangerous animals? I can't see them, but I know they are around. The only time spiders bother me in the home is when they crawl over me or I accidently walk into their web and panic. I try to avoid snakes outside, but I don't really know unless I accidently step on one, thankfully that hasn't happened yet. More commonly I'm attacked by stray dogs and angry birds. I've never been attacked by a shark, but I reckon I could still fight it off with my remaining limbs. Living amongst dangerous animals is just part of the Australian way of life, and living on the edge amongst constant danger is just part of living every day with blindness.

Day 21

Friday 21st Aug
I'm stepping it up again for Fred, from tomorrow I'll be running 24km and walking 8km each day. We are down to the final 10 days of the challenge, it's time to run hard until the finish, giving it my all and leaving nothing to spare. I've been battling with an eye injury, it seems fitting for the cause. A week or so ago one of the bad carers left a saucepan handle hanging out of a cupboard at head height that poked me fair in the eye. The blunt trauma has caused terrible headaches when I run and is painfully sore when I sleep. Due to being in the countryside I'm not near any experts who can take a look at the moment, so I'll get it seen to after the challenge this month. It just made me realise how vulnerable people in remote communities are with medical treatment, and how vital the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation is in providing eye care to their  patients. On a positive note, our fantastic team of super sponsors have now supported more than 100 people to restore their sight. That's such a brilliant effort, a truly heart warming achievement, it makes my long journey feel worthwhile.

How do I go swimming at the beach? I usually listen for the sound of other people and head in that direction along the sand, I want to be near to others in case I need their help. Whenever possible I also like to locate some of the volunteer life savers to ensure that I'm swimming between the flags for safety. Out in the surf I can feel the movement of the water and predict when the next wave will hit. It's very important to keep orientated in the surf so that I can find my way back to shore, this is usually done by following in the direction of the waves rolling towards the sand. Perhaps the hardest task is trying to find my towel and clothes after a swim, this is where the volunteer life savers are of such great assistance to me, often helping to mind my bag with them in a safe place.

Day 20

Thursday 20th Aug

I hit rock bottom today, barely getting my 32km done before midnight. It's not the running that is dragging me down, but the social problems that people with disabilities face every day. i had complained to the agency about the carers spreading smashed glass throughout the house and not cleaning it up properly, as a result they quit. Cowards! The majority of carer agencies are wonderful but there's a few unethical operators out there. I've since found another agency to help and their carers are lovely. So anyway, a neighbour informed me that the police had been at my house earlier looking for me to conduct a welfare check. I didn't know anything about it, but I guess the previous carers were checking if I was still alive after withdrawing their services a week ago. I phoned the local police station to find out what was going on and spoke with the Area Commander, he kindly read me their report which said, "Attended the premises at midday, the occupant could not initially be located. A thorough search of the dwelling found the gentleman asleep and snoring loudly through an open window at the rear of the property, we are satisfied of the occupants wellbeing." How embarrassing! But thanks to the cops for checking on my welfare. All the exhaustion from running lately has caused me to sleep a lot during the day, so much that I can't be awoken from a thump on the door from the local constabulary, and apparently my snoring has been of concern to the neighbours as an excessive noise complaint. This month I've now had the ambulance and police here, I just need the fire brigade to rock up for the hat trick. Let's hope it won't be necessary, although I must admit the over worked muscles in my legs are always burning.

How do I handle fire? Thankfully I haven't had to put out a fire yet, but I think I would first detect it by the smell of smoke, then be able to locate it from the heat, so I believe in theory it can be extinguished without sight. Whenever I stay in a hotel I always check out where the fire exits are just in case of an emergency, and if the power is cut and the lights go out then I guess I'll be the one leading others through the darkness to safety. I usually avoid the stove top at home because I'll surely get burnt trying to cook on it. An advantage of relying upon your sense of smell is being able to quickly determine the difference between the smoke of burning wood, paper, rubber, plastic, or electrical wiring. This skill helps me to know if the neighbour's house is on fire, or whether they have just forgotten again to invite me to their BBQ.

Day 19

Wednesday 19th Aug
Getting desperate for a rest day, would love nothing more than to take 24hrs off to recover, but realistically I know that's not possible if I'm to achieve my goal. We are almost down to the final 10 days, and if I can push myself just to reach that final week, then I know I've got every chance of making it to the end. From experience I know it gets really tough for everyone at this point in the challenge, you start to doubt your own ability, and to question why you are here? I expect the next week or so will be a bit rough on me mentally and physically, but coming out the other side of this dark storm cloud is a wonderfully refreshing feeling to get your 2nd wind and to come home with a wet sail. At least at the end of each day I get to proudly tell you that I did yet another 32km, and that's something I really look forward to.

How do I enjoy entertainment? Well, watching TV doesn't interest me much, neither does sight seeing on holidays. I usually just listen to music on the radio, or the sounds outside from around the neighbourhood. Occasionally I'll go to the cinema to watch a movie, I simply use my imagination to picture the different costumes and scenery, but it's the exciting atmosphere, the audience's reaction, and the oversized junk food that are most enjoyable to me. There are also lots of audio books and adapted board games for amusement, but I find it far more entertaining to step outside of my comfort zone, to explore new places and discover new things, it's a bit adventurous and sometimes dangerous, but it's a lot of fun.

Day 18

Tuesday 18th Aug
So very tired, starting to think I'd do better raising money by sleeping for a month instead. Saw a physio therapist today who helped me with some good stretches to keep my body going for another 2 weeks of this ordeal, after that I'll be paralysed and unable to move until next year. I'm starting early in the mornings and getting the 32km out of the way so I can get more things done during the day, but I end up sleeping for most of it and dreaming about running on treadmills.

How do I dream without sight? I do dream, and it's in full colour! For most of my life I have been very short sighted and only able to see colours and shapes, so the world looked to me much like a young child's painting. Although I've now lost my entire sense of sight, I still see these colours and shapes in my dreams. The storyline itself is far more important than the images that appear, but they do help to enrich the experience. Our minds are extraordinarily powerful and our imaginations can create the most beautiful pictures. Most interestingly of all, the character of myself in my dreams has never been blind and always has perfect sight.

Day 17

Monday 17th Aug
I think I've found my rhythm, but just as soon as you think you have, it will then suddenly change, so I'm just taking each day as it comes. The good days are great, and the bad days are awful. The only consistent thing you're assured of is the aches and pains. I'm considering a daily ice bath to help with the recovery, but it's already the middle of winter and every night is icy cold, so I just don't know if I can bring myself to do it. I ploughed through another 32km today.

How do I handle money? For many years I learnt the feel of the notes and coins. Of course coins were always easier, but a $5 or $10 were usually the most crumpled notes due to the frequency of their use. The length of each note increases with the value, although this can sometimes be hard to determine when you're in a hurry. The Australian currency now has tactile bumps on the notes, although many international currencies had introduced this feature long ago. The bumps do help, but the world is moving ever closer to a cashless society, which will save me from having to figure out my loose change. Using a card is so much easier, although it's difficult knowing your card number when it's not printed in braille. My favourite party trick is having somebody toss a coin into the air and when it lands on a hard surface I'm able to tell exactly which coin it was from the sound it made.

Day 16

Sunday 16th Aug
Half way! 32km done today and only about another 500km to go. I feel good at this point, my body is broken, but I'm mentally tough. Thank you so very much to all my sponsors who keep me running to restore sight. I cannot possibly imagine how I'll get through the 2nd half of this challenge, if I do reach my goal of 1000km it will be nothing short of a miracle. I guess it's just 1 step in front of the other towards ridding the world of blindness.

How do I compete in other events? I'm not always on the treadmill. Sometimes I'm running marathons on the streets with my guide Markus Schar, we hold a tether and run side by side, or run without a tether and just communicate verbally. At other times I'm walking ultramarathons through the bush with my guide John Faulkner, we walk side by side as I hold onto his backpack, or I follow behind holding a rope attached to his backpack and communicate verbally. In all events our team work is vital, this involves good communication and cooperation. Over such long distances it's natural to get tired, but it's essential for my guides and I to stay focused on the task at hand. Not only are these events physically exhausting, but also mentally draining. The guide will need to constantly give me clear instructions to avoid danger, and I need to constantly stay alert and listen carefully to correctly interpret the guide's instructions. Although the treadmill feels safer than trying to navigate the streets and bush, this event could very well  be the toughest challenge I've ever tackled. But I'm not doing this alone, you're with me in support, and we're guided by Fred Hollows in spirit.

Day 15

Saturday 15th Aug
I'm stepping it up for Fred! It's time to get fair dinkum, enough of this walk in the park, it's time to run. I'm increasing my 8km p/h run from 1hr to 2hrs, with only a 6km p/h walk for 2hrs 40min, for a total of 32km daily. Because 50% of the distance is now a run I think we can officially call my daily activity running, after all it is Fred's Big Run. So I did exactly that today, 16km run and 16km walk covering 32km in all, and it wasn't too bad, exciting to do something new for a change.

How do I know what clothes to wear? Fashion is very visual, so I'm not very fashionable. I really don't care what it looks like, as long as it's comfortable and practical that's all that really matters to me. It probably explains why I've never been a runway model. On rare occasions I might be a bit concerned with colour, such as dressing up for a job interview or a formal function. I've found the key is to only buy clothes that are easy to match, such as a black suit that will go with almost any tie and shirt. As for things like socks they are very hard to pair and match, so I just buy a bunch of exactly the same white socks then I can't go wrong. To avoid losing socks in the washing machine I peg the 2 socks together. I try to identify the rest of the clothes in my wardrobe by feeling the unique texture and pattern of the material.

Day 14

Friday 14th Aug
It has been a roller coaster of emotions during this challenge. I hated getting up early and I hated every step of the 32km today, but doing this amount of work gets the adrenaline pumping and releases those endorphins which makes me feel great. I think what I'm really missing are some physical ups and downs rather than just always being on the flat treadmill. The slight incline I have it set on is barely noticeable anymore.

How do I read my mail? I have an app on my iPhone called Seeing AI that reads letters to me. Technology is amazing! Most of the letters I receive are bills, so my iPhone tells me who the letter is from and how much money I owe. Alternatively, I much prefer to receive letters by email, it saves wasting paper and my iPhone can read the emails to me using the Voice Over setting. Before I had an iPhone, I couldn't read my mail at all, it would just gather in a big pile until someone came along who was willing to sort through the giant stack of letters for me. As much as I hate technology it certainly has it's advantages. It was a pleasant surprise this afternoon to receive my qualification certificate in the mail after years and years and years of study. Unfortunately I have no energy left to celebrate! Hip hip hurray!

Day 13

Thursday 13th Aug

Thank you to the NSW Ambulance Service who dropped by today to help me remove some tiny bits of broken glass that were stuck in my feet. We now know that the mystery object falling from the bathroom ceiling the other day was an antique light fitting which smashed into a million little pieces. My new carers, who had forgotten to care, had made a half hearted neglectful effort of cleaning up the mess properly, in fact successfully spreading razor sharp crystals of broken glass throughout the house for me to unexpectedly discover later. Despite my non life threatening medical emergency I was able to resume walking 32km in moderate discomfort for the cause.

How do I know what medicine I'm taking? It can be very difficult to know without being able to see the packaging and instructions. Often I will have someone to assist me in organising my medicine cabinet, and to discard any old unwanted products that I could potentially mistake for another item. Making errors with medication could prove fatal, so the greatest of caution is always taken. Tablets are usually easier to recognise by their shape and size, whereas jars and bottles of liquid remedies are much harder to determine although smell can sometimes be a clue. If I'm ever unsure, the rule is I don't take it, no matter how unwell I feel. Safety must always come first.

Day 12

Wednesday 12th Aug
It's crazy, today I found doing the full 32km in 1 session around the middle of the day worked best, and I really enjoyed the 1hr run more than the 4hr walk even though the run is much harder. I'm now convinced that what works well one day may not always work well the next. It's great to have a plan, and try hard to stick to it, but also be adaptable and flexible to change if necessary. The reality is you'll have some good days and some bad days. It's important to remember that this challenge isn't about speed it's about endurance, so it doesn't need to be completed fast, it's more about preserving your energy and listening to your body.

How do I measure my weight? I have a set of talking scales. I stand on the scales and I hear the voice tell me how much I weigh. If I'm not happy with the first reading I'll try again 2 or 3 more times until I  get a better reading. When the batteries go flat on the talking scales I then have to judge by my clothes getting looser or tighter. I don't have the advantage of seeing myself in the mirror, or being able to compare my body shape to others. I believe that weight is not always the truest measurement of health, I think fitness and happiness can be more accurate indicators.

Day 11

Tuesday 11th Aug
Separating the distance into 3 sessions throughout the day is working much better for me, it involves a bit of experimentation to figure out what is the most manageable approach. At times I lack motivation and struggle to find reasons to keep going, but when I see all the generous donations and words of encouragement, it truly makes me smile and feel good inside to remind me that we are doing such a good thing to help others, I'm really inspired by our compassionate and collective team effort. Please know that you carried me through another 32km today.

How do I handle stressful situations? I encounter stressful situations everyday, but if I let them get to me I would be a blubbering mess curled up on the floor in the fetal position. I find it helps not to take life too seriously, to laugh at yourself once in awhile, and decide which situations are really worth getting stressed out about. For example, when I was taking a shower this evening after my run, something heavy fell from a height and hit me in the head. I tried to catch the object but it smashed into a million pieces on the floor. After the initial shock, I decided not to panic, and to think logically through the process of what to do next. I lay the towel over the broken glass to walk on very carefully, I successfully escaped the bathroom without injury, and closed the door to worry about it later. I can only assume it was a vase or jug of some kind, and I will find someone in the morning to help me clean up the mess. I honestly can't explain how it happened, but it's not worth being stressed about.

Day 10

Monday 10th Aug
Another 32km and feeling really tired. I can't believe I've been doing this for 10 days. Only 21 to go. I'm not sure if my body will last, I need to take good care of myself by stretching before and after each walk or run to prevent injuries.

How do I use my phone? I have an iPhone that talks to me. I can activate the Voice Over feature in the settings. This screen reader program provides me with an audio description of anything I touch on the screen. I am able to make phone calls, send text messages, write emails, surf the internet, and basically everything else you can do on a smart phone. Advancements in technology have really opened up a whole new world for people who are blind.

Day 9

Sunday 9th Aug
Another 8km run and 24km walk, a total of 32km today. No matter how much sleep I get it's never enough. I'm leaving all my time on the treadmill too late in the evening, I'm squashing it all up into 1 session of 5hrs because I'm sleeping so much through the day. The torrential rain outside doesn't help much, it's the kind of weather that makes you want to stay warm in bed, it has rained for days and will do so for the next week or so. But I can't blame it all on the weather, I'm not fueling my body correctly, not drinking enough water and only eating bad food, that's why I feel washed out because I'm running on empty. I will act quickly to fix this problem.

How do I know what the weather will be? Without being able to see it, I need to rely upon my other senses. From indoors  I can hear the rain and thunder storms, but often I need to go outdoors to investigate, such as feeling the heat from the sun or the cool from a breeze. It is difficult to know when clouds are gathering, but sometimes I can smell dampness in the air to know that rain is on it's way. The hardest thing to know without a source of the time is whether it is day or night. The best clue when living in a big city is listening for the busy daytime traffic of cars and people. At night the tempreture drops and the noise is less, but in the countryside where I currently am it's peaceful and quiet 24 hours a day which is lovely but very confusing. There have been several blackouts which prevent me from charging my iPhone, and I rely solely on this electronic device to accurately tell me the time.

Day 8

Saturday 8th Aug
I tried running for 1 hour today, it was extremely painful with bandaged feet, but it also felt good to be using some different muscles than I do when walking all the time. I was able to run at a speed of 8km p/h then I droped it back to a walking pace at 6km p/h for the remaining 24km today. The horrific ordeal of running made walking seem like absolute heaven, so I now enjoy the time I'm walking, it helped me to appreciate it. I will continue to try running for an hour each day just to keep things interesting. I achieved a total of 32km today.

How do I take care of personal grooming? Today I gave myself a haircut, I like to think it helps me to run faster, but in reality I know it doesn't make any difference, it just keeps my head cooler when it's cut short. I used the hair clippers to give myself a crew cut, it was all done by feel. The same happens with shaving my face, no mirror is needed, I just do it all by feel, and very carefully too. I use a razor but admittedly an electric shaver would be safer. Brushing my teeth is fairly simple, but it can be tricky sometimes applying the right amount of tooth paste to the tooth brush, so it can be easier in a hurry just squirting the paste straight into my mouth before using the brush, it seems to do exactly the same job. I'm glad I don't need to apply makeup, I think that would be very challenging.

Day 7

Friday 7th Aug
Today was a little more balanced seperating the 32km into 3 sessions at 6:00am, 12:00pm, and 6:00pm. It's not perfect, but I've found walking 10km at a time is a bit easier on my poor broken body, it also gives me some time to recharge my battery before the next gruelling session. This all seemed like fun a week ago, now I'm not enjoying it so much, it's a lot of hard work.

How do I prepare food? I usually have someone help me, but I'm having to do it myself. I try to find a staff member at the supermarket to assist me with my shopping, and I normally just buy the same food every week because I can't see the variety of new items available on the shelves. Cooking can be very dangerous and requires a lot of practice which I don't have, so I avoid it where possible. Fast food is not the most healthy option, but is convenient and tasty. I prefer finger foods rather than trying to use cutlery. Washing the dishes is all done by feel.

Day 6

Friday 7th Aug
To complete this challenge I need greater discipline, sleeping for most of the day meant I had to do all 32km in the 1 session from 6:00pm. I need better time management to schedule when I will sleep, eat, shower, and exercise. I'm a complete mess at the moment and I know I won't be able to cope with this massive workload unless I find a steady rhythm.

How do I dispose of rubbish? As soon as I have rubbish I place it in the garbage bin outside, it saves me feeling around the house trying to find all the rubbish later. I need to be very organised and have some way of identifying the different wheelie bins for garbage or recycling, which is difficult if they are both the same shape and size. Today I slept in and forgot to put out the bins. I heard the truck outside and bolted out of bed to hurl the bins down the driveway. I missed the truck, but listened for it rumbling around the streets, I figured out where it was heading and raced down the road in my pajamas to cut them off a few blocks away. I discovered some bins that hadn't been emptied yet so I waited there in the cold country morning frost for the truck to come by. The driver had seen me earlier outside my house waving my arms and yelling, but they just gave me a friendly toot on the horn to say hello and drove off. When I eventually stopped the truck and explained the situation the driver kindly agreed to come back and empty my bins, so I ran back home as fast as I could bare foot along the rough gravelly roads with the truck following right behind me, I wish he'd offered me a lift because my poor feet were cut to ribbons. Being so focused on the bins I didn't notice the amount of blood, but the first aid kit came in very handy to patch myself up. At least now I know that my fitness has improve enough to run.

Day 5

Friday 7th Aug
Today I chalked up a distance of 40km, and I also turned 40 years old today. How ironic! I broke the day up into 4 sessions of 10km each, and doing them at set times in between sleep at 4:00am, 10:00am, 4:00pm, and 10:00pm. It was a nightmare, torture on my body, and mind numbingly boring. Walking on the treadmill for a total of 6hrs 40min today, and not actually going anywhere. Maybe I need to start walking on the beach instead.

How do I avoid going insane with boredom? I believe the answer is imagination. I use my imagination every day to paint the world around me, it's rather entertaining and amusing. The treadmill faces a blank wall, but I can't see the wall, so instead I create a beautiful scenic landscape in my mind, instantly I can be transported anywhere in the world, running with Markus Schar, walking with John Faulkner, or following in the footsteps of Fred Hollows.

Day 4

Friday 7th Aug
I have travelled far away from the big city to set up camp in a remote little country town. Leaving at the crack of dawn I wasn't able to commence my daily 32km  walk until late into the afternoon at 6:30pm. I really didn't feel like doing it, I was exhausted and sore, but I still did it anyway. I hobbled along in a daze until nearly midnight struggling to do the full distance all within the 1 session, but I knew that if I took a day off it would be almost impossible to catch up over the next 4 weeks.

How do I travel around? I often walk to get somewhere, I have found this to be the most reliable. At other times I will catch public transport such as trains and buses, but have also travelled by myself on planes interstate and overseas. It involves a bit of careful planning in advance, and arranging for assistance with transport staff to ensure a safe journey. But admittedly there are days I wish that I could drive a car, especially when I find myself walking home in the wind and rain carrying heavy bags of groceries that sometimes split.

Day 3

Friday 7th Aug
A very busy day ahead so I started walking early at 12:00am and again much later at 9:00pm. I completed 32km, but the large timing gap between the 2 walks really threw off my rhythm. It allowed me to get a lot of important things done during the day, but I'm now sleep deprived, and I'll be starting tomorrow's walk in only a few hours. It's a vicious cycle.

How do I clean my house? I usually have someone help me, but today I tried to do it myself. Without sight, I need to rely upon my other senses. If something smells dirty it probably is, and if something feels dirty it probably is. Unfortunately my house has become very mouldy which I cannot see, but I can sometimes taste and smell it in the air. As a result, I need to vacate the premises and reside in temporary emergency accommodation. The mould isn't my fault, there is a significant problem with rising damp, but it has been making me sick for many years. It's hard to run when you can't breathe.

Day 2

Monday 3rd Aug
Another day walking on the treadmill, this time spacing the morning and afternoon sessions evenly apart at 6:00am and 6:00pm. Sticking to the plan I conquered another 32km today.

How do I wash my clothes? I usually have someone help me, but today I attempted it alone. I opened the box of washing powder on the wrong side making a mess as I couldn't figure out where the hole was suppose to be. After throwing a generous handful of powder into the washing machine, I then tried to pour out some fabric softener, accidently emptying about a third of the large bottle, only to discover that the washing machine lid had closed and the liquid went everywhere. A quick clean up with a towel got things back under control, until I lifted the lid and tried pouring in the fabric softener again, losing grip with my slippery soapy hands and dropping the bottle into the machine emptying it's entire contents. Well, at least my sweaty gym clothes now smell lovely and fresh, but admittedly this task was completed with difficulty.

Day 1

Saturday 1st Aug

I awoke early and began walking on my treadmill at 1:00am, I did this at a speed of 6km p/h for 2hrs 40min covering a distance of 16km. Later in the day, after a much needed rest, at 5:00pm I punished the treadmill for another 16km at exactly the same pace, clocking up a total of 32km by the end of the day. I plan to consistently follow this pattern throughout the month to reach my goal.

How do I use a treadmill? Being totally blind I need to walk or run holding onto the side handles for balance and safety. The buttons on the control panel are marked with tactile indicators that I can recognise to set the speed and incline. I can only keep track of the time by listening to the radio or having my iPhone tell me the time.


Thank you to my Sponsors

$52.20

Ben Phillips

Hooray, you reached your goal!

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Jennifer King

Well done Ben!

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Jess

I just came across this through Josh’s Facebook. Amazing effort, just awesome and for such a great cause. Thank you for the daily updates you wrote, I started reading one and then found myself reading them all! enjoyable to read and so interesting and educational to get a snippet of what living life with no vision is like. Cheers to you.

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Zoe Houghton

We're so proud of you Ben. Love from Zoe from Nida

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Danen Engelenberg

You are incredibly inspiring Ben! What a phenomenal achievement!

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James Handsaker

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Morad Wasile

Ben, do a curtis mayfield.

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Alan Schenk

Great work Ben and your compassion for others is a great example to us all.

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Sophia Hendry

Good luck and all the best :)

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Margaret Dinneen

Ben you are my HERO I am so proud that you are my nephew, love you heaps

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Brett Sherson

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Doug Tarrant

Best of luck Ben

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Louisa Dawson

Hi Ben Keep up all your inspiring work. We all support you. Best Louisa and Family

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Shirley Brown

Run rabbit run!

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Uli Eichhorn-schär

Dear Ben, you keep being a big inspiration for me. Thank you for doing this hard yakka! Love xx

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Anonymous

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Maia

Great going Ben! Your humour and determination will get you to your goal. Best wishes, Maia

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Adam Spencer

As always inspirational Ben. One foot in front of the other mate!!!

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Philippe Maes

Go Ben, go!

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Framequip Pty Ltd

Congatulations and Great Work

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Sydney Auctions

Inspirational !

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Peter Barnier

Go Ben ! You Inspirational Legend

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Falconer

Ben you are an inspiration. Best of luck with the BIG RUN

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Rob Dawson

Go Ben you legend !

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Alan And Deb Boyde

Go Ben. Hope this helps from Alan and DEB Boyde

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Seagull

Go you good thing! Keep on striding!

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Allan Leung

Donation is not much but just to show my support to your dedication in helping people who need help in regaining their sight. Keep up the good work.

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Bob & No7 Westaway

Awesome Ben. You are an inspiration to us all.

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Glenda Parkee

Amazing attitude Ben. Keep up the good fight to save others sight.🥰

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Bazz From Next Door

amazing work ben . you rock .

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Sue Barnett

Knowing what you have accomplished in your life already, I know you will achieve this goal. You are an inspiration Ben.

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Trusty

Go Bender

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Wendy & Matt Graham

So proud of you Ben!

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Amanda Haines

All the best for the big run Ben- great cause x

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Trish Phillips

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Colin Healey

You are awesome Ben. Hope there are some days with a bit of sun on your back.