Blind runner set to run her first ultra marathon

Terri Rupp has graduated from 5Ks to marathons to ultras

Terri Rupp wasn’t about to let something like blindness get in the way of her leading a full and active life, and that includes one of her true passions: running. Now, the limits of that passion are about to be tested in a way they never have before. Rupp is going to run an ultra.

She says running allows her to push beyond her comfort zone and continues to show her and her kids that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. 

Rupp first started running with Achilles Las Vegas in November of 2017. The non-profit organization provides training, support, and guides for AWD (athletes with disabilities). 

“This is when I set my goal to run my first marathon at the 2018 Las Vegas rock and roll marathon,” Rupp says. “Since that initial run, I have completed many 5Ks, 10Ks, 12 Ks, half marathons, the Las Vegas rock ‘n’ roll Marathon, and the Saint George marathon.”

Now, the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival is making a very cool move to include blind runners in its endurance events this year. 

Jackpot’s parent company, the appropriately named  Beyond Limits Running, announced a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada (NFBNV) and Achilles International of Las Vegas that will see two local blind runners Rupp, who is also the president of NFBNV, and Pedro Navarro, tackling their first ultras when they compete in the 12-hour Jackpot race along with a team of sighted guide runners. 

“This is not just a run; this is an opportunity to show that with proper training and opportunity, blind people can accomplish anything,” Rupp says. “I never dreamt I would run more than a full marathon, but the opportunity to run my first 50K at Jackpot came knocking, and I just couldn’t not go for it.”

Ken Rubeli is the co-founder of Beyond Limits Racing and co-race director of Jackpot.

“My wife, Stephanie Rubeli, and I started Beyond Limits 8 years ago to celebrate a life-saving double organ transplant due to Type-1 Diabetes, and to encourage runners, especially average runners, to run way past their perceived limits,” Rubeli says. “Meeting a couple of local blind runners with ambitions to tackle their first ultra-marathon gave me goosebumps as I remembered the day my wife earned her first 50K ultra medal just 4 months after receiving a kidney/pancreas transplant. We are beyond honoured to welcome Jackpot’s first blind runners, Terri Rupp and Pedro Navarro, along with their dedicated team of “sighted guide runners” from Achilles International of Las Vegas who will run alongside Terri and Pedro.”

The 7th annual Jackpot festival takes place Feb. 14-17 in Henderson, Nevada and features the USA Track & Field 100-Mile Road National Championship along with 6-, 12-,24-, and 48-hour races, a 50-mile race and a standard 100-mile race. 

Although one might think running in a race such as a marathon or ultra might come with certain challenges, Rupp says quite matter-of-factly that is not the case. 

“It’s actually never been challenging,” she explains. “The only challenge I find is finding time to fit in training runs, and finding a ride to meet up with my running guides.”

Rupp, who turns 37 this spring, is married and has two kids. She is an avid outdoors person and camper. Her incredibly positive attitude goes hand-in-hand with the work Rupp is doing with the NFBNV.

“The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future,” she says. “Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.”

She sees the race next weekend in Henderson as another step in the right direction. 

“This race is the beginning of a partnership in raising expectations and going beyond perceived limits that create the obstacles that may stand in our path,” Rupp says. 


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