I came across this picture a few days ago as I was catching up on the news. It was featured in a collection in The Atlantic about the recent Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. (There were lots of interesting photos, so it’s worth taking a look.)
The image immediately filled me with questions. What must this experience be like? It’s hard enough to keep a consistent gait while walking along with another person holding hands; running takes it up a notch. But racing as fast as you can? It’s mind-boggling. Do they have a signaling system to help them communicate? How do their times compare with athletes running alone? As I said, mind full of questions.
And I’m thinking about the guide. From what I understand, race rules prohibit the guide from crossing the finish line before the blind runner. But having the guide run behind would slow the runner down, so they’ve got to coordinate precisely.
So what’s it like to be a guide? Are they runners who act as guides in addition to their own races? Do they sacrifice their chance of running in certain races in order to be guides? What is the relationship generally like between runner and guide? I wonder if the guide ever feels ambivalent about being the sidekick.
I’m reminded of the folks who climbed Mount Everest in the early years, and all the praise heaped upon them for their amazing skills, while the sherpas, who routinely climbed that highest peak loaded down with the boss’s gear, went unheralded.
The photo collection includes other things I don’t know anything about, but I’ll just show you one more, which looks like it’s going to be even harder to learn about.
Some of the photos aren’t so much puzzling as straight-up breathtakingly beautiful. Enjoy the series.