Brockport Student Runs the Boston Marathon
Adapted physical education student and former Paralympian Lindsay Ball accomplishes a lifelong goal.
Lindsay Ball, a senior at SUNY Brockport, has been training for the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon for months.
On Monday, April 15, Ball — along with her best friend and guide Samara Garcia — ran the streets of Boston among 30,000 others as part of the Boston Marathon. It was intense, as every step they took along the route, spectators were watching, Ball said. Wearing bib number 23946, she finished the 26.2-mile race in five hours and 16 minutes.
“I did it, and it was great. But I loved it so much, I want to do it again,” Ball said.
She said she hasn't calculated the hours she spent training because it’s scary to think about. On average, she ran about 10 hours a week. That’s in addition to the hours she logs studying as an adapted physical education major. The weeks she had to clock the most miles happened to coincide with mid-terms. Sleep was the casualty.
This wasn’t Ball’s first major athletic accomplishment. She competed in Sochi as a Paralympic skier in 2014. Ball was one of three women with a visual impairment who skied for Team USA.
Ball started skiing at six years old; through hitting the slopes, she learned that even though she can’t see, she can still be an athlete and do things like everybody else. Skiing pushed her to try other new things, she said — like move to western New York for college.
While skiing was her first love, running is her second.
Ball and Garcia tackled the Buffalo Marathon together in May, but their time fell four minutes shy of qualifying for Boston — one of Ball’s lifelong goals.
So how did they get in?
On New Year’s Eve, Ball saw a Facebook post from Adaptive Sports New England that sought applicants to run the Boston Marathon in support of their organization. Ball was one of three selected to run for the non-profit that works to increase the number of youth and young adults with visual or mobility impairments who participate in sports.
Ball doesn’t love to be in the limelight.
“I don’t always love the extra attention that it draws, like ‘oh, my god, she can’t see and she’s running; that’s awesome.’ Even though they mean well,” Ball said. “I just want to be treated like everybody else. Running a marathon is really hard for anybody, whether you can see or you can’t see.”
But she does have a few challenges that others don’t.
For example, she can’t program her own treadmill. When Ball arrives to train at the SERC (where she also works), one of her friends and colleagues escorts her to a treadmill. They set the touch screen for her and check in on her to update her on minutes and mileage.
While the machines are not adaptive, the staff is pretty adaptive, Ball said.
“We are very lucky to have a great staff who helps assist Lindsay in her progress and training. We all feel a part of this journey, so to have the staff volunteer their time is amazing and rewarding for all of us,” said Lisa Barbato, the fitness and wellness coordinator in the SERC.
Ball has worked with the staff at the SERC to investigate the purchase of an accessible treadmill, but they haven’t been able to find one.
“It’s nuts,” she said. “We wonder why people with disabilities don’t go to the gym.”
Ball didn’t have a target time in mind for running Boston. Instead, she just wanted to have fun with her best friend, prove that she could do it, and take it all in.
“It is remarkable for anyone to run, train, commit, and have support for any marathon. Then the extra layer that she is visually impaired adds a whole new level of inspiration," said Barbato. "Her enthusiasm and dedication is contagious."