After a few days back in Mae Sot, we said goodbyes to the neighborhood and made our way to Bangkok for the last couple days before Steven & Keri flew out.
I found the We Run for the Blind 2 race and signed us up–Steven for a 10k and Keri & I for the 5k. We were given instructions to be at the check-in table at 5:30am.
We were. Unfortunately, that was unnecessary, and the race didn’t start until nearly 7:30am. They also had only two of us signed up–Steven for the 10k and “Kelli Helmick” for the 10k. I explained that Keri & I were running the 5k, and they made us new bibs. I tried to explain that one name was actually “no Ls, just R”…we got this.
As we waited for the start, we took this picture. They kept asking us, Are you buddies? We didn’t really understand. We knew some people were partnered with blind people who were running the race, but not speaking the language, we didn’t sign up for this.
Later, Steven went back to the desk to ask about his other bib–there had been two, one in Thai and one in English. He asked if he could keep the Thai one, since it was his name in Thai. To this, the woman asked, “Do you understand this race?”
Uh, no. Clearly not. That wasn’t his name in Thai–that was his “buddy.” Everyone was partnered with another person who was about your pace, some blind and some not. If neither of you were blind, you took turns running blind and leading each other, so that we all learned how to guide as a runner.
This is very complicated with language barriers, and overall, we were very confused. But we did run!
Keri & I decided to be partners since we speak the same language. We held onto the same guide band and for the last kilometer or so I was blind folded and required her guidance… It was a very odd experience, but an experience nonetheless! Steven’s buddy never arrived, so he ran by himself and made pretty good time.