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Reston Resident to Guide Visually Impaired Brother-in-Law in Boston Marathon

Marathon is April 21.

Kyle and Julie running the Portland (Maine) half marathon in 2010. Photo submitted by Kyle Robidoux
Kyle and Julie running the Portland (Maine) half marathon in 2010. Photo submitted by Kyle Robidoux
Four years ago Kyle Robidoux and Julie Kimmel ran their first race together. It was a half marathon in Portland, Maine, and Julie informally helped Kyle navigate the crowd of runners throughout the race.  

Now Julie will be Kyle’s official sighted guide in the world’s most prestigious race—the Boston Marathon.

Julie, Kyle’s sister-in-law, will be Kyle’s sighted guide for the first 13.1 miles of the marathon. Kyle was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 11, and the disease has left him legally blind.

Kyle has very little usable central vision and no peripheral vision. His vision is similar to looking through a toilet paper roll. Therefore, competing in a crowded race such as the Boston Marathon requires him to have a sighted guide to avoid running into other runners, missing turns and tripping over potholes and other road obstructions.

Julie will give verbal cues throughout the race advising Kyle when someone is in front of him and when he needs to “step up” over potholes or bumps in the road. At times Kyle will grab onto Julie’s arm when making sharp turns.

“I’m honored that Julie will share her sight with me and we will have the opportunity to start the Boston Marathon together,” said Kyle. “My vision is at a point where I need to run with someone for my own safety and the safety of others. Having a sighted guide allows me to compete and stay active.”

Kyle’s brother, Jayson, will guide him the final 13.1 miles. Boston will be Julie’s ninth marathon. Last year she ran in the inaugural Runners Marathon of Reston and completed the 50-Mile North Face Endurance Challenge in Washington, DC. She has competed in numerous local races, including the Reston Sprint Triathlon.

When she’s not running, Julie is a freelance copy editor and owner of the Reston-based Lower Lake Editing.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to run with Kyle and to experience the Boston Marathon,” said Julie. “His efforts as a blind athlete are inspiring, and I’m fortunate to contribute and support him in this way.”

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