A blind runner completes her first race with the help of a guide dressed like a superhero.
Angie Moran’s eyes are squinting. Or they’re closed. Even if they were open, Moran couldn’t see anything. She’s blind. Has been since she was 8, her blindness caused partly by heredity, partly by an accident with a stick.
But that expression tells you so much. It came moments after Moran, 29, crossed the finish line last Saturday at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon. The expression is equal parts joy, relief, elation, hunger and thirst.
“I don’t have to run anymore,” says Moran, recalling her thoughts at the moment the above photo was snapped. “I want to go get a beer.”
Moran, though, is only half the picture. Because she’s blind she requires a tethered sighted guide, which in this case was Superman. Or at least 47-year-old Boris Dilbert, his muscular 5-foot-10, 210-pound frame stretching every fabric of his blue Superman T-shirt.
Dilbert pulls off the perfect Superman. He looks like an action hero you don’t want to mess with. The sunglasses. The skull cap. There’s little expression of his face in the picture. He’s focused on Moran, the damsel who was not in distress.
“Superman doesn’t show emotion,” says Dilbert, who by day isn’t a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, but instead owns a refrigeration and air conditioning company.
Moran moved to Savannah last July to work for the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. She’s a vision rehab therapist. Late in the summer she was working out in the gym, met Dilbert, told him she wanted to resume running and asked if he knew anyone who guided blind runners.
At first, Dilbert, who has run five marathons, was reluctant to offer his services.
“I thought she would be more of a burden,” Dilbert says.
At the suggestion of his 23-year-old daughter, Dilbert accepted the challenge.
They began running together Labor Day weekend, training three days a week.
Before Saturday, Moran had never run a road race. Not a 5K or 10K. Dilbert was the one who suggested she tackle a half marathon. The woman does possess an athletic background, winning two national judo competitions.
Says Dilbert, “We weren’t starting from the couch.”
Moran and Dilbert were a hit on the course. There were cries of “Go Superman!” … “Way to go.” … “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet.”
In training, Moran’s long run stretched to 10 miles. Dilbert was confident she could finish in 2 hours, 40 minutes. If things went well, 2:36.
Instead, they finished in 2:26:50. (While the clock in the picture shows 2:36, it took the pair 10 minutes to reach the start line.)
“I could tell she was excited [at the finish],” Dilbert says. “She didn’t say much, but she just had this grin on her face. She couldn’t believe it was over. And she couldn’t believe her time. We went to get medals, get our picture taken and she kept asking, ‘What was our time again?’”
“Hell, yes, I was happy,” says Moran.
As for Dilbert, the victory was his too.
Asked to describe the feat, Superman said, “It’s indescribable. I wish I could do it again.”
About The Author:
Don Norcross is a San Diego-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @Don_Norcross.