Breaking! Blind Marathon Runner & Specially-Trained Guide Dog Make History After Completing Half Marathon In New York

Thomas Panek, Guiding Eyes President and CEO, and his running guide dog training for the Marathon. Photo from Guiding Eyes, Facebook.

Yesterday was heartwarming and historic for Thomas Panek and Gus when they became the first blind man and running guide dog to complete the United Airlines Half Marathon in New York City.

Panek, who is the President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, triumphantly ran the half marathon, with special accommodations courtesy of New York Road Runners, to raise money for other visually-impaired athletes wanting service dogs that can both guide them and run with them.

The nonprofit based in New York, which is dedicated to creating and supporting these types of life-changing connections between people and dogs, trained Panek’s three canine co-runners for the history-making half marathon.

The dogs paced Panek one at a time on the 13.1-mile racecourse from Brooklyn to Manhattan, while veterinarians and volunteers were stationed along the route to provide check-ups and ensure the team’s hydration, health and safety.

The New York City Half Marathon Training Team also included Waffle, the fastest member of the team and the only girl, as well as Westley, who is described as “A Big Goofy Moose” that has both strength and speed.

Westley was the first to start the race, a solid runner covering the first 5 miles, before handing off to his sister, Waffle, who Thomas reported, “was on fire.” Gus, the team’s anchor and seasoned veteran finished the last 3 miles, guiding Thomas over the Finish Line.

Gus, a longtime runner and guide to Panek, subsequently retired with honors after earning his medal in Central Park.

Thomas Panek, Guiding Eyes President and CEO, kneels on the ground at the NYC Half Marathon finish line step-and-repeat with his arms around his guide dog Gus. Both Thomas and Gus wear a marathon medal around their neck. Photo from Guiding Eyes, Facebook.

“History has been made! #GoodBoyGus earned his United Airlines NYC Half Medal and will now step into retirement,” the organization stated in a post on its Facebook page. “Congratulations Thomas and the entire Running Guides team on a successful race!

WAN applauds Panek, Gus, Waffle, Westley, Guiding Eyes, and everyone involved with making these remarkable feats possible for humans and dogs alike!

Sunday’s race may be over but Guiding Eyes plight to provide world-class running guide dogs for blind runners, free of charge, continues.

People are encouraged to donate to the Running Guides program and all of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind services that bring guide dogs to people in need, HERE!

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