Blindfolded runner has Chicago ties

January 19, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

As if running a marathon isn't tough enough. Try running 12 marathons in 12 months—while blindfolded.

Former Chicagoan E.J. Scott is attempting this feat to raise awareness for choroideremia, a genetic disease that causes progressive vision loss.

Scott said he was diagnosed with the disorder in 2003 and is now legally blind. He runs with a guide and wears a blindfold during races because the sun hurts his eyes.

His goal is to raise $144,000 for the Choroideremia Research Foundation--$12,000 for each marathon he runs. Scott completed the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon on Sunday in 5:34. His next marathon is the Austin, Texas, marathon on Feb. 19. He will compete in the Chicago Marathon in October.

"I don't know what I was thinking," Scott joked to RedEye about his quest.

Scott said he became a runner a couple of years ago as a way to maintain a 60-pound weight loss. He ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010 in 5:37.

The toughest aspect of that course wasn't the running, Scott said, it was the noise.

"There are so many tens of thousands of people. It's really loud and noisy," said Scott, 36. "Because I'm blindfolded, I'm paying more attention to my hearing and I have to pay attention to my guide. I can get pretty overwhelmed audibly."

Scott said he does all of his training indoors on a treadmill because it's too difficult to grab a guide every time he needs to run. He said he won't run outdoors at night because he's afraid he might miss a crack or a dip in the road and fall.

His worsening vision was part of the reason he was attracted to Chicago. Scott said he moved to the city from L.A. in 2008 because he needed to give up driving and he wanted to rely on public transportation to get around. He's also an improv actor and performed at iO and The Annoyance Theatre.

He lived in Andersonville until six months ago, when he moved back to L.A. to be closer to his girlfriend, "True Blood" actress Deborah Ann Woll.

Scott said he has raised more than $20,000 toward his $144,000 goal. | @tracyswartz

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