A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT LIFE

"Whatever hand life deals you, you don't have to give in to it. You just need to find a different way of... looking at it!" These wise words sum up the attitude of a man who is used to falling down, picking himself up again, and carrying on, a man used to "looking" at life differently!

Richard Monisi was born blind, regaining 5% of his sight after an operation at the age of 12. Forced to drop out of school early, he moved from his rural village to Johannesburg where he discovered long distance running. It was difficult to find time to train, so Richard chose to train in the quiet early hours of the morning, so that he could concentrate on his senses other than sight to guide him through the streets, before the confusing noise of the day began.

He has since finished 11 Two Oceans marathons, and is preparing to run his 12th Comrades Marathon on 4th June 2017. During one of his races, he fell four times, picking himself up each time and continuing towards the finish line. As he entered the stadium, he was disoriented by the music and cheering crowds. He lost his balance and fell, but was lifted to his feet by nearby runners, who urged him not to give up, to keep going to the end, something he has been doing throughout his life.

In 2013, his guide collapsed due to dehydration, but Richard would not give up - he made sure that his guide was taken care of, took out his white cane and finished the race, spurred on by his own determination and the encouragement of his fellow runners. For Richard, the start of the Comrades Marathon is a difficult experience - it scares him. He can hear lots of people all talking at the same time, lots of people making nervous noise. The loud music adds to his trepidation. For the first few kilometers, surrounded by many runners, Richard struggles to set his pace, but as the crowd thins, he gets into his stride. He tracks the time by the sun, feeling its warmth and shadow on his face at different times of the day. Unable to see the distance markers, Richard relies on the camaraderie of the other runners.

"We're halfway!" shouts a fellow runner. Recognising his voice, Richard's heart lightens - he remembers that they run at the same pace and realises he is on track for a good finishing time.

This brave man who can't see can teach us a lot about the way we look at the world.

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