A visually impaired runner gets ready to tackle all 26.2 miles of Philadelphia Marathon

Justin Udo
November 09, 2019 - 4:00 am
Nick Falco and Matt McAvoy at a KYW Newsradio studio.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The 26th annual Philadelphia Marathon, which brings out all sorts of runners, is slated to take place later this month.

It wasn't until after he lost his vision that Matt McAvoy started running.

"I was more of a biker and other things and I did climbing and stuff. Once it wasn't a good idea to ride a bicycle anymore, especially in traffic since I couldn't see, then I figured I would try something else," he explained. 

Matt is now able to run, thanks to the Achilles running club and his guide Nick Falco.

"I think about how difficult it is for me even to walk around my own house with the lights out," Falco said. "To be able to run a marathon and any race being visually impaired I think is one of the bravest things you can do." 

The two are working together to make sure they are in sync, something McAvoy says takes time and patience.

Related: Philadelphia Marathon marks its 26th year, one runner has been around for every mile

"I run without a tether. A tether is a rope or a shoelace or whatever that other people might use to hold on to their guide, but I like to run with just audio cues," he said. 

And now, he's even competing in the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon.

"I can walk fast with my cane, but that's about it, so it's liberating to be able to do that," McAvoy said. 

Falco says for a sport that was previously solitary for him, having a partner gives him a new determination.

"It really adds sort of a new dimension of my training. It's not just being accountable to my own improvement but to the person I'm running with," he said. 

During their runs, the guys communicate about obstacles like pot holes, curbs, and elevation, but there's another subject that always seems to come to the forefront.

"One of our largest conversation topics when we run, and also probably our most consistent post-race celebrations, is both having a beer but then talking about it to no end what we like about it and how much better it feels after completing a run," Falco added. 

The duo says running is fun, but it's the socialization that keeps them coming back.