Blind Olympic torch bearer to run using iPhone app

Chase Kell
·Editor

He may be blind since the age of 17, but Simon Wheatcroft will carry the Olympic flame at the 2012 Summer Games, with a little help from his iPhone.

"If you had asked me three years ago if training alone was possible while being blind I would have said no," Wheatcroft shared with Fox News. "Now I do it and ... I realize perhaps a lot of things are possible."

The RunKeeper app uses GPS to track certain aspects of your run, including distance, pace, duration, calories burned and the path travelled. With your headphones on, the app will read out your current stats as you run, acting as a virtual coach that warns if you have pushed ahead or fallen behind pace.

And though the app wasn't developed specifically for the blind, developer Jason Jacobs is thrilled that Wheatcroft is able to find it useful.

"We had no idea when we built the app that it could be used by a blind person," shares Jacobs. "He's truly an inspiration — we're huge fans of him and what he has been able to accomplish."

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Wheatcroft, the 30-year-old ultra-runner from the U.K., had to learn to go on his own after losing his guide runner some time ago. He's been fortunate enough to avoid serious injury, saying that there were only "a few accidents along the way, including running into posts that RunKeeper just couldn't help me with."

With a running style that keeps his feet very close to the ground, Wheatcroft primarily runs the same six-mile route that he's memorized. But he's very confident in his ability to navigate his way along the Olympic path on June 26, 2012.

"It's a very simple road route, so I could easily learn this route by running it once," he explains.

His family, friends and local supporters will be there to cheer him on, and thanks to app's "watch live" function, anyone with Internet access will be able to track Wheatcroft's run.