(Ivo Budil, 55 years, visually impaired runner at Vltava Run)
Since 2015, athletes wearing reflective vests with BLIND written on them have been running Vltava Run. And some of them have quite possibly overtaken you in a long trail climb, leaving you wondering what was going on.
Blind runners started to participate in Vltava Run thanks to the Leontinka Foundation, a foundation helping the visually impaired for sixteen years now. Among other things, it has been helping them make their sports dreams come true and do things they never believed they could do.
As November 13 is the International Day of the Blind, together with the Leontinka Foundation we’ve decided to share the stories of three blind runners who, despite their handicap, were courageous enough to start the race and pull the entire team all the way to the finish line. Six times!
from the Leontinka Foundation team is already a Vltava Run veteran; being fifty-five years old, he’s run all six Vltava Runs! Ivo has been a great athlete all his life, regularly participating in the famous Jizerská 50 cross-country skiing event. Mainly, though, he’s a passionate guy eager to enjoy great experiences without worrying too much about his results. For Vltava Run, he never forgets to bring his Seeing Eye dog Runa, guide Petr, and a portable coffeemaker with a grinder to prepare coffee for himself as well as his teammates. He’s famous for his sense of humour and the long scarf tied around his head that he never takes off.
Another regular runner at Vltava Run you may have heard about. Yes, Honza is the blind mountaineer who climbed up to an elevation of 7,600 metres oxygen-free during an expedition to Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world! And it’s not just his achievements that make him admirable (he was the second blind climber to climb El Capitan in the Yosemite National Park); Honza is mainly a guy with a big heart who has been organizing a charity race to raise money for handicapped kids.
To complete this trio of blind supermen, we can’t forget about the story of Honza Hegr who – just like his namesake – likes mountaineering, and he’s also fond of kayaking and even dance! In 2019, he danced tango with Veronika Lálová as the first blind dancer at a concert for the Leontinka Foundation. Honza is a man of many talents and hobbies; working as an analyst and developer, he likes to spend his leisure time as an amateur radio operator and ornithologist, and he and his wife have been raising their son together.
All these stories as well as the stories of other blind and visually impaired
athletes from the Leontinka Foundation team have one thing in common – the
love of sports and running that helps them cope with their handicap, overcome
obstacles as well as meet good people and bring home some unforgettable
experiences. And that’s what this is really about. If these guys have won
your heart over, you can support their sports activities by donating to the Leontinka
In return, you’ll feel great and the foundation will send you a digital copy of an authentic diary written by the blind runners during Vltava Run 2016.