BY: SINEAD MULHERN
Rhonda-Marie Avery has only eight percent vision, but just completed an incredible feat of endurance this past summer that most people with the privilege of full vision would never even dream of.
This Barrie, Ontario woman ran the entire 885 kilometre-long Bruce Trail this past summer in just 20 days – the equivalent of running an average of just over a marathon per day.
Not only is it an incredible test of physical boundaries, but this is also the first time a person with a disability has completed the Bruce Trail end to end. The ultra-run started at the Bruce Peninsula in Tobermory on Aug. 4 and finished on Aug. 23 in Niagara with Avery logging as many as 54 kilometres in a single day. Volunteer guides took shifts running alongside this determined trail runner for the three-week duration.
Avery is a 36-year-old massage therapist and mother of three who describes herself as stubborn. This go-getter of an athlete was born with achromatopsia, the condition that wound her up legally blind. Despite her disability, Avery bikes and swims, as well as, obviously, running regularly.
She credits Achilles Canada – a not-for-profit giving people with disabilities the chance to experience the physical and psychological benefits of running – for encouraging her to get involved in the sport. That’s why she used this three-week adventure to raise funds for the organization. According to her Go Fund Me campaign, she raised $5,775 from just under 100 donors.
Her message through all of this is to imagine life without limits.
Perhaps the Bruce Trail is therefore one of the best hosts for a person dedicated to letting go of life’s limitations. The iconic hiking trail weaves through some of Ontario’s most picturesque landscapes and it happens to be Canada’s longest footpath. It’s also the oldest. A vision born in the mind of Raymond Lowes, it was presented as an idea in 1960 at the Federation of Ontario Naturists. After years of door-to-door negotiating with landowners, the Bruce Trail was unveiled in 1967 in Tobermory.
“I’m on a quest to be the most powerful verb in my own life,” Avery is quoted as saying on 8% No Limit’s official site.
Even though the Bruce Trail challenge was guided, Avery regularly trains alone. Even at night. Even in disagreeable weather.
According to her Twitter feed, she logged nearly 100 kilometres during last week’s workouts.