A BLIND man from Bishopton is preparing to take on a marathon charity challenge alongside his guide dog.

Kind-hearted Allan Russell didn’t ‘paws’ for thought when he heard about the Marathon Mates event that will raise vital funds for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland.

He signed up to run just over 13 miles during September, accompanied by guide dog Quigley.

Allan’s daughter Laura, 27, will also go ‘on the run’ as she completes an identical distance to take their combined total to 26.2 miles – equivalent to a marathon.

Every penny they coin in will be put to good use by the charity, which has been starved of cash for months as lockdown has brought its usual fundraising activities to a halt.

Allan, 48, admits the sponsored run will be quite a challenge but insists his main concern is making sure Quigley is able to go the distance.

He said: “If we do more than two miles a day, I’ll need to make sure Quigley’s paws are okay, as the ground can be quite rough in parts and he has never guided for that kind of constant distance.

“This can be very mentally tiring for him.”

Allan lost his sight to an inherited degenerative condition called Leber Congenital Amaurosis almost 20 years ago.

Taking on the Marathon Mates challenge has involved carefully planning a route suitable for five-year-old Quigley and himself.

“I haven’t done much running since I was in the high school athletics team, competing around Scotland,” said Allan.

“I’ll be pounding the streets around Dargavel Village, where I live. I have a route I’ve planned with a circuit that is two miles.

“Laura will run in Renfrew, where she lives, and we will keep in touch via our smartphones. We’re going to do 13.1 miles each, probably two or four miles a day, depending on work and the weather.

“I’m still wondering why I chose to do it with no sighted guiding in a busy area and in September when, let’s face it, the Scottish weather may be a little harsh.

“I’m actually looking forward to it, though. With Covid-19 hitting the charity sector hard, it’s more important than ever to try to support their great work.

“RNIB was there for me when I lost my sight and helped me regain my IT skills and get my mojo back. Through their volunteering scheme, I found employment again.

“I know, first hand, what a positive and tangible difference RNIB makes to the lives of blind and partially-sighted people.

“It’s vital we all do what we can to help the charity weather the coronavirus storm, to be there when people need them and to show that sight loss is not the end of the road.”

James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, has expressed his thanks to everyone who is able to support the charity at this difficult time.

He said: “Like almost every charity, RNIB’s usual fundraising events have had to be constrained or even cancelled outright during the current situation, so we want to find ways to help those who support us to take part in something that’s fun, worthwhile and not too onerous.”

To support Allan’s fundraising efforts, make a donation online at www.justgiving.com/team/quigleys-crew.

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