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  1. ITV Report

Blind runner will complete solo New York Marathon guided only by smartphone navigation device

Simon Wheatcroft will be completing his first solo marathon with the help of a smartphone-linked device. Credit: Simon Wheatcroft

A blind ultramarathon runner is set to run the New York Marathon using only a smartphone-based navigation device to guide him.

Simon Wheatcroft, 35, from Doncaster, will use the app to guide him along the 42-mile route during the November 5 event.

It should also ensure that he does not bump into any of the 50,000 other runners who will be crowded in with him on the course.

Mr Wheatcroft lost his sight from a degenerative eye disease when he was a teenager.

He has previously completed a number of marathons - but has never before run solo without a "buddy".

The runner said the New York race will be his 'greatest challenge and most significant run to date'. Credit: Simon Wheatcroft

The runner has been experimenting with with technology to enable him and other visually impaired people to navigate independently.

He worked with a US-based firm to develop the Wayband device which he will be using during the marathon.

It is a wristband which pairs with a smartphone to take information from GPS and then guide users by vibration, with Mr Wheatcroft saying it has the potential to "expand people's possibilities".

This will be my third New York marathon, but undoubtedly my greatest challenge and most significant run to date.

Technology has enabled me to strive for the impossible. I want to continue using it to push the boundaries of what I am capable of achieving - and to ensure technologies exist that can assist everybody, whether they're running a marathon or simply walking through their home town.

– Simon Wheatcroft
Mr Wheatcroft will be guided by vibrations on his smartphone-linked wristband. Credit: Simon Wheatcroft

Due to New York's famous skyscrapers, Mr Wheatcroft expects GPS to drop out on his device, but has taken this into account in his training.

He said the goal is for blind people to use the device in their everyday lives walking on the streets, and not just remain something used by an athlete in a sporting event.

The Wayband device is expected to go on commercial sale at a later point with a price of around 300 US dollars (£226).