Blind Runner And His Guide Dogs Make History At NYC Half Marathon

Guide Dog

Thomas Panek and his relay team of guide dogs made history on Sunday when they completed the 2019 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon.

Panek is the first blind runner to complete the half marathon assisted by guide dogs, CNN reports.

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The president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind ran with three Labrador Retrievers – Westley, Waffle, and Gus. 

The good working doggos took it in turns to run alongside Panek. According to Guiding Eyes, the dogs ran three-to-five miles each.

Gus, Panek’s longtime guide dog, ran the final 3.1 miles with his human and retired from service afterwards.

“It’s a little emotional for me because he’s been there with me the whole time,” Panek told CNN. 

According to the New York Road Runners website, Panek finished the 13.1 mile race in two hours and 20 minutes.

“#GoodBoyGus earned his #UnitedNYCHalf medal and will now step into retirement,” Guiding Eyes tweeted after the race. “Congratulations Thomas and the entire Running Guides team!” 


CNN reports Panek lost his eyesight in his early 20s and with the help of human guides, has since completed 20 marathons.

Although, it was Panek’s desire for independence that inspired him to start a running program for guide dogs.

“It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run,” he told CNN. “It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not.”

During the race, Panek and his running team popped up in a whole bunch of excited tweets.