From his mid-twenties to his mid-thirties, Kyle Robidoux wasn’t active. His vision was decreasing due to the degenerative eye disease, rehtinitis pigmentosa and he had convinced himself that it meant he could no longer be active. Then one day on a walk around the park, he tried running for one minute, dressed in the clothes he wore to work. One minute turned into five minutes, five minutes turned into runs in actual running clothes, then those runs turned into two hour runs and two hour runs turned into ultras. Now, Kyle is running Reebok Ragnar Reach the Beach with Team With a Vision, an ultra team comprised of six visually impaired runners and their guides.
“I got hooked immediately. At the time, my daughter was about two, and I was very nervous about trying to keep up with her,” he says. “I was 250 pounds and I’d get tired just playing with her. So, one day I ran for a minute in the park. I was like, ‘I didn’t fall and I didn’t hit anyone.’ The next day, I did it for five minutes.”
Now, Kyle’s running resume includes the Boston Marathon, Run Around the Lake (a 12-hour timed race) and the Tark 100K. The weekend after Ragnar Reach the Beach, he’ll run the Vermont 50. Often, his sighted guides rotate out to keep up with his mileage.
“As I learned more about the concept of ultra running, that challenge and that ability to push my body and see how far I can push it, was appealing to me,” he says. “I get motivated by the distance and seeing how far you can push your body in terms of it’s boundaries.”
When Kyle was approached about joining Team Vision Quest, which is a combination of people from the Costal Athletic Association, The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and 2020 Vision Quest, he thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
“I think at its core, they are five people that I enjoy hanging out with and they are friends of mine,” he says. “In total, I think it’s a good opportunity for us to challenge ourselves as a team as well as raise awareness on the course and help break down the barriers to help athletes with different abilities to be as active as possible”
The team is comprised of Kyle, Hannah DeFelice of Boston, Alison Lynch of New York City, Randy Pierce of Nashua, NH;Brian Switzer of Easton, MA and Jason Romero of Denver, CO who recently became the ninth fastest man to run across the US. All six are visually impaired or completely blind.
“Our biggest strength as a team is that we’re all relentless,” Kyle says. “We’re all committed to setting goals and completing those goals. We’re accustomed to having to push through challenges, whether it’s freezing cold or rain or whatever the terrible ailments are, we’re accustomed to having to push through those barriers and knock them down.”
Kyle hopes that even though they need to do things a little differently, such as running with guides, Ragnarians see that the goal of the team is just to be as active as possible and to have fun.
“I think Ragnar is as much social as it is physical, so I’m stoked to be able to share 200 miles with a dynamic team of runners that includes both peers of mine who are blind or visually impaired as well as a rock star lineup of guides,” he says.
To sign up to guide in your community, visit UnitedInStride.org. Read more about the inspiring Ragnarians running Reach the Beach by reading Just Keep Going- Joe Brockway run his 10th Reach the Beach at Age 83.