Blind athlete completes Bruce Trail in 20 days
Rhonda-Marie Avery, a 36-year-old Barrie marathoner and mother, who has 8% vision, completed her trek of the 895 km-long Bruce Trail on Saturday, August 23rd.
Avery started in Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and just 20 days later, hugged the cairn at the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail in Queenston Heights. In Avery's words, "It's been a wonderful hike and a wonderful 3 weeks!" A changing series of guide runners who ran in front of and behind Avery supported her during this amazing adventure.
On her arrival at the end of the Trail, Avery was greeted by a crowd of supporters. There she was congratulated by Achilles Canada, a non-profit organization that encourages athletes with disabilities, and by Janice McClelland, President of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. McClelland stated, "Rhonda-Marie has set an inspiring example for people with disabilities and to all Canadians to stretch to reach your goals."
The Bruce Trail is Canada's oldest and longest footpath. The Bruce Trail Conservancy, supported by over 8,000 members and more than 1,300 volunteers, is one of Ontario's largest land trusts. McClelland noted, "The Bruce Trail is roughly 50% secure and protected for future generations to enjoy. That means that for every two steps that Rhonda-Marie trod, one step was on land that is still vulnerable to development and could be made inaccessible or environmentally degraded."
The Bruce Trail Conservancy, a charitable organization that welcomes donations, is working to secure and protect the Bruce Trail within a conservation corridor along the Niagara Escarpment, close to where 9 million people live, work and play.