Visually impaired runner completes marathon with the help of guides, friends

A group of Minnesota runners proved that teamwork can make the dream work.

October 08, 2021, 7:24 PM

Laura Sosalla, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was declared legally blind earlier this year due to long-term effects after a battle with COVID-19 last November.

Sosalla was determined and said she wanted to prove to herself that she wouldn't let the impairment change how she lived her life.

PHOTO: Laura Sosalla of St. Paul, Minnesota, finished the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3.
Laura Sosalla of St. Paul, Minnesota, finished the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3.
ABC

She decided to run a marathon. This spring, Sosalla sent a message to Rachael Bentley on United in Stride, an organization that matches visually impaired runners with guides.

Sosalla and Bentley teamed up, along with Bentley's sister, Natalie Elmore, and Sosalla's neighbor, Laura Brennan, who ran the 10-mile event.

PHOTO: Rachael Bentley posted Laura's story to "United in Stride," an organization that matches visually impaired runners with a guide
Rachael Bentley posted Laura's story to "United in Stride," an organization that matches visually impaired runners with a guide.
ABC

After months of training side-by-side, the women ran the last mile of the Twin Cities Marathon together on Oct. 3.

Elmore said many noticed her guide bib and the group was showered in positivity from onlookers.

PHOTO: Natalie Elmore guided Laura Sosalla during the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3.
Natalie Elmore guided Laura Sosalla during the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3.
ABC

"I felt like it was really just my job to communicate to her all the excitement of the day," Elmore said, "describing that to her and giving her encouragement in that way."

The group crossed the finish line at 5 hours, 38 minutes. Brennan said she was proud to be in such good company, adding: "It was an honor to cross the finish line with her and be able to witness the look of joy on her face as she realized her accomplishment."

PHOTO: Laura Brennan of St. Paul, Minnesota, ran the Twin Cities Marathon 10-Mile on Oct. 3.
Laura Brennan of St. Paul, Minnesota, ran the Twin Cities Marathon 10-Mile on Oct. 3.
ABC

Bentley said she's already looking ahead.

"It was a blast running with these women, and I can't wait to do another race soon," she added.

Sosalla told "World News Tonight" on Friday about the support received while overcoming her hardship.

"What COVID has taught me is even though it took my eyes, it gave me an opportunity to connect with people and share life in a completely different way," she said. "I'm so incredibly grateful for that."

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