Credo: Mark Pollock
Blind adventurer, 32
Sunday 07 December 2008
The past 10 years have been a journey, and I've come a long way. When I first went blind [Pollock lost sight in one eye at the age of five, then went blind in both on 10 April 1998], I felt so stuck. All I wanted to be able to do was cook for myself and tell whether it was night or day. The idea of going to the South Pole didn't even cross my mind.
The South Pole Race is a huge challenge for anyone. None of the competitors know whether they are going to be able to cover the distance. [Teams of three will race about 1,000km across the Antarctic ice cap to the Pole.] The blindness just happens to be my own extra difficulty.
There's a whole suite of things I have to factor into my preparation that others don't. I have to use my hands to feel the sledges and put the tent up. The danger with using your touch at -50C is the risk of getting frostbite.
When it comes to meeting girls, it's no good getting an opinion from just one friend. He could be wrong. If I want find out what she looks like, I need to get a broad sweep of opinion from all my mates.
You can pick up a lot from audio cues. You can tell if someone's smiling even if you can't see them – they sound different.
If I know 100 per cent that I can do something, it's not a challenge, and it's not worth doing. The excitement lies in the calculated risk of failure.
At times, being blind is incredibly annoying and frustrating. If a bus is starting to pull out of a bus station, when I could see I would run for that bus. Now that I'm blind I just have to let it leave.
I had to make a decision at some point to stop looking backwards, accept that I'm blind, this is the reality, and think, "Now what am I going to do about it?"
I view my self as an educator rather than a victim. It's up to people like me in the blind community to educate others that the visually-impaired can do so many things.
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