Yahya Pandor, a 28-year-old government worker and qualified counsellor based in Swindon, is attempting to create a new world record by running the 2024 adidas Manchester Marathon  without a guide runner, having lost his sight during lockdown. 

During what was already an unsettling time in 2020, Yahya lost his sight after being diagnosed with macular degeneration, subsequently experiencing a period of poor mental health.

“You lose the magnificent sky, the lush grass and the blossoming trees. It robs you of the  beautiful details on your loved one’s faces; the special looks that were just for you; and  mundane normal things like being able to read a menu or a street sign. Although you may be able to partially see, you are still so attached to our intensely visual world –  even as you feel it slipping away”

“To me, going blind is a process with somewhat distinct stages. There was ‘Before’, when I was sighted. Now there’s ‘During’ (where I am currently) – the fearful experience of being partially sighted, somewhat ‘clinging’ to what I have left. 

“I’m hopeful that I will soon progress to a third stage of full acceptance, embracing a different yet still fulfilling life. Running a marathon is a huge victory for anyone, and for me, it will signify resilience in the face of a great challenge. What better way to achieve this than in the city of Manchester, which is welcoming to all and known for its epic atmosphere”.

Now, Yahya has a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and runs Insight Counselling, an organisation which offers counselling sessions to people with mental ill-health who cannot afford private healthcare.

“Before I lost my sight two and a half years ago, I was able to see fully. Although losing my sight was a huge shock and subsequently meant I had to undergo a period of major personal transition, life is very much still worth living. I want to get that same message across to anyone who is experiencing poor mental health. 

“I find that life is all about setting new challenges for yourself and maintaining a spirit of perseverance to see them through.” 



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A post shared by Yahya Pandor (@yahyapandor94)

As he looks to set the first ever world record for a blind person running a marathon completely untethered (and without a guide runner to assist him) Yahya is looking forward to meeting the challenge head-on. 

“There is always the anxiety that the training won’t be enough, or unforeseen circumstances on the day, but that’s all part of the mental challenge of running a marathon. My training plan is firmly in place, I’m running four to five times a week already and I have a rotation of running guides. 

“I’m not focusing too much on numbers and times, but if I could complete my first ever marathon in under four hours, that would be great. I’ve told quite a few people about the world record attempt, which is a great way to keep motivated. The more I tell people about it, the more determined I am to succeed!”

In his spare time, Yahya regularly works with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and British Blind Sport to encourage blind and visually impaired people to get active. 

By attempting the challenge, he hopes to show that being blind or visually impaired “is not a barrier” and should not be seen as something which stands in the way of fulfilling long-term life goals. 

Having never taken part in a marathon before, Yahya is excited at the prospect of being cheered on by friends and family and connecting with his fellow participants at the event on Sunday 14th April 2024. 


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A post shared by Yahya Pandor (@yahyapandor94)

“I’ve heard such good things from friends who have completed the adidas Manchester Marathon in previous years. The route is flat, which will be hugely helpful for me and was one of the main reasons I signed up in the first place. 

“I also think the huge number of participants will really enhance the experience and spur me on. The crowds always look fantastic, which I’m told really provides a boost on the big day. 

“I hope my record attempt will inspire blind and visually impaired people to get active and take on physical challenges, whether big or small. We should not be underestimated!”