18-Time Blind Marathoner Richard Bernstein Makes Triumphant Return To New York City

Nov 05, 2013
Richard Bernstein

In August 2012, Detroit attorney Richard Bernstein, who was born blind, was hit by a cyclist in Central Park, sending him to Mt. Sinai hospital for 10 weeks. Yesterday, in Central Park, he crossed the finish line of his eighth New York City marathon.

It was his 18th marathon total, he tells The Huffington Post, and he finished it in five hours and 51 minutes, according to the unofficial results on the website of the New York Road Runners, the organizer of the New York City marathon.

Bernstein, 39, well-known across Michigan, had been walking in Central Park when he was struck from behind by a cyclist who allegedly had lost control of his bike, CBS reported shortly after the 2012 accident. "I had spent so much time trying to become an athlete as a coping mechanism for my disability," he says. "In an instant, I became a trauma patient."

He suffered a broken pelvis and left hip, which still causes him significant pain, he says. To build endurance without unnecessarily straining his body, he took to the swimming pool, regularly wracking up two hours of training a day.

All that hard work paid off when he crossed the finish line. "It was a day filled with emotion and potential, and when the day was done, I had attained the objective I set out to achieve just over a year ago when I suffered my injury in Central Park," he wrote on his Facebook page Monday. "What then seemed like an impossibility now has become an actuality, and for that I am most grateful."

He completed the 26.2 miles alongside guides from Achilles International, a nonprofit organization that aims to "enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics," according to the group's website. The guides were tethered to Bernstein to act as his "eyes" on the course. "I told my guides, I don’t care how difficult or painful it gets, we’re finishing this thing. The only way I’m not going to finish is if I faint, and even if I faint, we’re still going to finish it," he told

It wasn't easy. "The pain is with me all the time," he tells HuffPost Healthy Living. "So you have to learn to adjust and adapt to the pain." But it wasn't without lessons. "It's allowed me to work through the pain," he says. "Through the marathon, I was able to find peace with my injury."

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