Dave Williams doesn’t let the fact that he’s blind deter him from doing anything, but until his early 30s, the UK based dad admits he was pretty out of shape. “I was really unfit. I didn’t really do anything physical, but then when I got into my thirties — just out of boredom — I thought I might try a bit of cycling,” Williams, recently shared with TODAY Parents.
But after a few years, Williams was having trouble finding someone to ride with him on the special tandem bike he had been training on. He sought out a new guide, with the original goal of finding a running partner and converting them into a rider. “To cut a long story short, basically I failed and they converted me into a runner,” said Williams.
Although Williams says he has lost over 40 pounds since he began running, he tells TODAY that the real drive comes from knowing his son Arlo is proud of him, and that they now have an acuity they can share. “Just from the moment he could move, he never sat still … he runs amazingly well, and I just thought I’d love to be able to do that with him, but physically I couldn’t.”
Just a year after making the leap to marathoner, Williams says he now gives his son a run for his money. “He used to be able to run a mile or two and I couldn’t run 100 yards. Now I can run beyond his farthest distance.”
Eventually, his path led him to 30-year-old educator Bex Jones. Williams and Jones entered several local races and after having initial success, Williams found himself in a place he never thought he’d be. “I found myself online, on the form for the New York City Marathon ballot — there may have been alcohol involved — and I thought, ‘Well, I’m a runner now. Runners do marathons, that’s what they do eventually once they get good enough,” he recalls.
But to his own surprise, just a month later, Williams received confirmation that he’d secured his place on the starting line. He immediately called Jones to share the news. “I said, ‘You are not going to believe this, but apparently I’ve got a place in the New York City Marathon. She came straight back and said, ‘Well, I’ll do it.”
Training three days a week, competing in half marathons and distance races, Williams was as ready as he’d be.
On November 3rd, Williams took to the streets of NYC, joining over 50,000 other runners in one of the most challenging road races in the world. Dave and Bex finished the race in 4:12:20.
While finishing is an achievement in itself, Williams’ ultimate hope is that his son learns an important lesson from the experience. “That…if you really work hard at something and you put in the time and effort and you’re resilient, than the world’s your oyster — you can do whatever you put your mind to.”