Q & A WITH THE PRESIDENT OF ACHILLES, BRIAN MCLEAN
Brian McLean founded Achilles in 1999 after recognizing the need for an organization that represented athletes with disabilities and allowed them to compete with able-bodied athletes in recreational running races. Already a runner, solely on a treadmill at the time, Brian realized that the help of a running guide would allow him to participate in races and run outside. Twenty years later, Achilles offers specialized programs that provide training, racing opportunities and social events for athletes with disabilities. Using running as a tool, Achilles is focused on their main objective, “to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all.”
Brian and Achilles Canada is a supportive community member to Good Foot Delivery, fundraising for us and other charitable causes with the 2023 Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Race, this Sunday, March 12th. We sat with the race director himself to learn more about what sparked his passion for running, what running means to him and his long term goals for inclusivity within the race and marathon world.
Q: What sparked your passion for inclusivity within running?
A: A friend of mine was running the New York City Marathon in 1998 and noticed all the disabled athletes participating in the marathon. When he came back home he told me about it because he knew I was only running on a treadmill. He inspired me to do something similar here in Canada because at that time there wasn’t an organization supporting individuals with disabilities to participate in running events.
Q: How has your understanding of disability changed over the years?
A: My understanding is that inclusiveness is 100% better than what it was back in 1999. Today, almost every single running event has athletes with disabilities participating. Even Race directors are now more (open) to working with athletes with disability to help as best they can so that they too can participate in races with able-bodied participants.
Q: What does running mean to you?
A: Running is therapy for me to get away from all the hustle and bustle of work and family. It allows me to think freely and not worry about all the little things in life. It also gives me freedom knowing that I can run by myself in a safe environment that I am aware of, without traffic and people.
Q: What are your long term goals for inclusivity within the racing
A: Continue breaking down barriers and make sure all running events and sporting events are accessible to all. As for the Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Race my ultimate goal is to one day have a 50/50 ratio of able-bodied participants vs Achilles athletes or athletes with a disability.
Q:What’s your relationship with Good Foot Delivery like?
A: Our relationship with Good Foot Delivery has been fantastic, we try to use their services for any of our deliveries in the downtown core. We are also helping their couriers by outfitting them with new “On” running shoes every 500 km of walking they do through their work.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to be more active?
A: Never say no and never allow someone to say that you can’t do that! With a little bit of support, you can accomplish anything you want and reach your goal. When it comes to fitness, find your interest or passion and go for it!!!!
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