Kimmel is running with a special purpose. She will be the official sighted guide for visually impaired brother-in-law, Kyle Robidoux of Boston.
Robidoux, 38, has suffered from Retinitis Pigmentosa since childhood, and the disease has left him legally blind. Robidoux has very little usable central vision and no peripheral vision.
Running in a crowded race such as the Boston Marathon requires him to have a sighted guide to avoid running into other runners, missing turns, and tripping over potholes and other road obstructions.
Kimmel, who first ran a half marathon in Maine with Robidoux in 2010, will give verbal cues throughout the race such as advising Robidoux when someone is in front of him or when he needs to “step up” over potholes or bumps in the road.
Kimmel will run with Robidoux the first 13.1 miles in Boston. Robidoux’s brother Jayson, will guide him the final 1.31 miles.
“I’m honored that Julie will share her sight with me and we will have the opportunity to start the Boston Marathon together,” said Kyle. “My vision is at a point where I need to run with someone for my own safety and the safety of others. Having a sighted guide allows me to compete and stay active.”
Robidoux has completed several marathons, both with and without Kimmel. The two ran a full marathon, the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor in 2011, and Kimmel said she couldn’t keep up with her partner that time, watching him take off on his own around the 10th mile.
Robidoux ran on his own in December’s California International Marathon in Sacramento, where he finished in a personal-best 3 hours and 50.18 minutes.
Kimmel, a copy editor and owner of Lower Lake Editing in Reston, has also run several marathons. In March, she ran the Runners Marathon of Reston Half Marathon in 1:52, a personal best.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to run with Kyle and to experience the Boston Marathon,” she said. “His efforts as a blind athlete are inspiring, and I’m fortunate to contribute and support him in this way.”
Photo: Kyle Robidoux (l) and Julie Kimmel in Maine Half Marathon/Credit: Julie Kimmel