Fighting Darren Fittler’s blind courage

Media Scrapbook   |   Oct 19, 2013

Darren Fittler and Dirk Venter tackle the Tough Mudder. Picture: Rob Daniels Source: Supplied

INTRODUCING Sydney-sider Darren Fittler.

He’s just become the first blind man in the world to complete the Tough Mudder.

Alongside close friend and personal trainer Dirk Venter, Fittler took on and conquered the gruelling 20km hardcore obstacle course of 3m walls and freezing ice baths in four hours and 19 minutes to write himself into the record books.

“It was great to get over the line, I spent the last 10km with fairly severe leg cramps and I was glad just to stop, to be honest,” Fittler, a lawyer by day, told AWAAT.

“The very last obstacle is the dangling electrical wires and the buggers had put hay bales in underneath it, so my plan, which was just to bolt straight through, was put to a screaming halt.

“So me, with my very brave personal trainer, had to walk side by side slowly so we could know when to step over the hay bales whilst being repeatedly belted by 10,000 volts of electricity and, yeah, we got out the other side of that and I was in a pretty bad way.”

For Fittler, who suffered from retinal dystrophy which resulted in him losing his sight when he was about 12, the hardest part of the challenge was staying “switched on the entire time both physically and psychologically” for such a long duration.

“In terms of obstacles, the skateboard quarter pipe was the one that took me three goes and that was the toughest to know without being able to see what you’re doing – to run straight up a skateboard ramp and know the right time to be able to grab the top or be able to grab your mate’s arm took a fair bit of effort.”

Despite the exhausting effort, Fittler – who was born and bred in the Orara Valley outside Coffs Harbour and turns 39 next month – isn’t about to hang up his obstacle course boots just yet.

“My philosophy in life is just to give things a go and keep trying and build up that well of experience and stories that you can relate to others with and share, so I’m always on the lookout for something else. I have a thirst for knowledge and a keen interest to know what’s out there.

“People say, ‘Oh man, It’s amazing that you did this as a blind man’. And I say, you know what, I reckon there’s a whole bunch of blind people out there who could do this but I think the difference might be that I dare to try.

“So you can give it a go and I reckon if you gave it a go you’d do it no dramas, mate.”

Fittler’s amazing story can be followed

- by Simon King, reposted from The Australian 19 OCT 13

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