On Sunday, Rio 2016 Paralympian Charles “Chaz” Davis (Grafton, Mass.) finished the California International Marathon (CIM) in 2:31:48, setting a new American record for the T12/B2 visual impairment category. This was his first marathon and came just months after he returned from representing Team USA at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the 1500m and 5000m.
“In 2016, I had the goals of going to the Paralympic Games in Rio and running a successful first full marathon at the USABA Marathon National Championships in Sacramento,” said Davis. “Luckily, I was able to accomplish both goals.”
Davis finished 10th in the 1500m and 8th in the Men’s 5000m in Rio de Janeiro in September.
Davis runs with a visual impairment due to Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, a rare disease that destroys the optic nerve in the eye and can result in sudden vision loss. Davis has been legally blind since his freshman year of college.
“My coach, Roger Busch, knew I had a quick turnaround and constructed a quick six week plan to get me in decent marathon shape. Unbeknownst to us, the training paid off a lot more than we initially expected. I’m still in disbelief!”
In addition to setting a new American record and qualifying for Boston, Davis also won a national title. CIM also serves as the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Marathon National Championships. Each year, USABA partners with the Sacramento Running Association to coordinate the championships. Since it was established in 2007 with a small team of two, the USABA Marathon National Championships have become one of the premiere distance running events for athletes who are blind and visually impaired.
CIM boasts a relatively straight and level course which makes it one of the top Boston Qualifier races in the country. With this time, Davis has also qualified to run Boston in 2017 and has the option to defer to 2018.
Forty blind and visually impaired runners and 50 volunteer sighted guides participated in the 2016 USABA Marathon National Championships which were sponsored by local investment firm Hanson McClain. Twenty-six of the 40 ran the full marathon while the remaining runners made up six different relay teams. Nineteen runners qualified for Boston with sub 5:00:00 finishes. The group included blinded Military Veterans, U.S. Paralympic athletes, world champions, and international athletes.