Running for sight, even without it at this weekend’s Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon

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Tyler Millard had three interests during his college years: teaching math, running and music. After he lost much of his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa, teaching math became difficult, but his other two passions keep him very busy.

Millard will be one of an expected 830 runners participating in the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon set for Sunday, March 20. He will cover the 26.2-mile course with the help of guide runners. The race will be Millard’s fourth marathon.

Tyler Millard, will compete in his fourth marathon on Sunday. Photo courtesy- Tyler Millard.
Tyler Millard, will compete in his fourth marathon on Sunday. Photo courtesy- Tyler Millard.

“Having Tyler in this race is a blessing for us and our runners,” said Race Director Tom Clifford. “The Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon is more than just a race – it builds community, it drives the economy, it raises money for charity and, most importantly, it is life-changing for so many people. Tyler is an inspiration to all of us, especially those who doubt themselves or their ability to succeed.”

With a goal to not only finish the trek, Millar also hopes to raise $1,000 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Click here to donate to his cause.

He is also using his musical talents to support the foundation. “Alive,” his song about strength and facing adversity, is available for download on iTunes. Millard donates 25 cents from every download to the Foundation. “Alive” was recorded in a Nashville, Tennessee “Recording in the Dark” session, during which all the band members donned blindfolds to experience sight “loss.”

“We are deeply moved by Tyler’s talent, courage and generosity,” say Bill Schmidt, CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “His spirit, as captured by his running and his music, is an important ally to the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ mission. That is, we will keep working to support and advance the research until blindness caused by retinal disease is a thing of the past.”

The Foundation Fighting Blindness was established in 1971. It has raised more than $650 million to support research designed to prevent and treat blindness caused by retinal diseases. More than 10 million Americans have vision loss due to retinal degeneration.

The Quintiles Marathon is just one of four races set for Sunday.
The Quintiles Marathon is just one of four races set for Sunday.

Wrightsville Beach and its surrounding area will be filled with competitors and supporters over the weekend. Headlined by the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon-a 2016 Boston Marathon qualifying event-there will also be the Wrightsville Beach Half-Marathon, The Marathon Team Relay, Susan G. Komen 5K and one-mile fun run.

As part of the full-marathon, miles 16 through 26.2 will be new to runners this year. The only repeating part of the full marathon course will be The Wrightsville Beach Loop at sunrise. Runners will kick off their journey at Wrightsville Beach Park.  Half marathoners and marathoners will start together and run around the famous John Nesbitt Loop.  Nothing will change with the half marathon, and marathoners will split from the half around mile 11 as they have in previous years.

From there, marathoners will return to the beach as in previous years and run around the loop for a second time. Their new journey will begin as they return west over the Heide Trask Drawbridge and cross to the south side of Eastwood Road.  They will take the Gary Shell Cross City trail into the heart of UNCW Campus, down Chancellors Walk.  Runners will pass the Fisher Union, Randall Library, Cameron Hall and enjoy the scenic UNC-Wilmington Campus. They will then return on the Gary Shell Cross City trail and head toward the finish line at Mayfaire Town Center Mall.

Click here for more details on the event, traffic hot spots and other information relevant to race day on Sunday, March 20.

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