The following paragraphs are from an interview Doug Murdoch had with Branden and posted on the Empire Runners Blog in early June 2015 (you can click on the link if you prefer to read the original):
Empire Runners Blog
JUNE 2015, NEWS, TRACK & FIELD
Running . . . visually impaired.
JUNE 4, 2015 | DOUG MURDOCH |
(Interviewer’s note: Branden Walton has run some respectable times as a Jr. at Windsor High School……..even though he is visually impaired (and legally blind). His goal is to attend the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, but he needs to qualify at the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June.)
Question: Hi Branden, nice starting leg of the 4 x 400 meter race at the Redwood Empire Track finals at Santa Rosa High School! How was your season this year and what are your PR’s?
Answer: I have improved over the season. My PR’s are: 4:48 for the 1600, 2:07 for the 800 and 55.07 for the 400. I hope to set new PR’s next year.
When you gave your presentation at Fleet Feet, you had some goggles that people could put on to see what you see since you’re visually impaired. When I put them on, I could understand how you could run track. What I couldn’t understand is how you can run Cross Country! The Spring Lake course is pretty rocky by XC standards – how do you navigate the rocky terrain? What’s your PR?
I agree that the Spring Lake XC Course is very difficult, and even more so being visually impaired. I can’t see rocks so I preview the course multiple times so I know where to be careful and where there are spots where I can pick up my pace. My course PR is 17:20.
Because you’re visually impaired, are your other senses heightened compared to other people? How does that help you when you’re racing?
I don’t feel as if any of my other senses are heightened.
During your Fleet Feet presentation, you mentioned that before the Desert Challenge in Tempe, Arizona, you had to have your eyesight tested to qualify for the race. And then with a deadpan delivery, you told everyone you failed the test and therefore qualified for the race (laughter from the group). Do you often use humor to explain your situation?
I don’t always use humor to explain my situation but I sometimes do because I am very comfortable with my self and my vision. I also think I use humor to make people around me feel more comfortable.
Tell us about the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. What times in your events do you need to run to earn a birth on the US delegation to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio?
The National Championships in St. Paul MN will help me get a birth on the US National team. Making this team will help bring me to some other events, those being the Parapan American games in Toronto and World Championships in Doha. This will help get me noticed but I will still have to run in the Paralympic trials to make the 2016 Paralympic Rio team. To make the U.S. National team I have to run times that are 90 percent or better of the National A standard. The National A standard is 4:00 for the 1500, 1:53 for the 800, and 0:49 for the 400. The times I run in Minnesota will be calculated to a percentage and then they will decide whether or not I make the team.
Nice story on your Brandens_Page (http://www.grainflow.com/Brandens_Page/Brandens.html) page! But I want to know something else…what is motivating you to try to go to Rio? I mean, you could be sitting at home eating jelly filled donuts and goofing around on the computer…but instead you’re training. Why?
There are a few things that motivate me, one is being able to compete and be as good or better than people with normal vision. This has motivated me throughout my life; it started with soccer and then basketball. When I started running in 6th grade I wanted to be as good as others and this pushed me to continue to get better. That want could only bring me so far. After my 7th grade season of track when I won every race but one I got the chance to go to World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was an initiation track meet for visually impaired athletes. This opened my eyes up to the possibility of track – seeing seventeen countries with 1500 visually impaired athletes was amazing. Coming back to middle school and finishing up the 8th grade track season with only one defeat I got the opportunity to go to London to watch the 2012 Paralympics. I got to spend ten days in London and I watched track events for six of those days. I think going and seeing the respect the people had for the athletes competing was amazing, and that experience pushes me every day to get better and eventually make it to the Paralympics
And now a very important question…what’s your favorite cuisine, in general? Do you have a favorite pre?race food? What about after race celebrations – anything special?
Nights before races I try to eat carbs and protein; sometimes I don’t get the carbs because I’ll eat a chicken salad. The morning of race day I always eat sourdough bread, lunch is the same lunch I get for school everyday, nothing special for celebration.
Photos from the 2015 Redwood Empire Track Finals at Santa Rosa High School, May 23.
The above few paragraphs were from Doug Murdoch's Empire Runners Blog in early June 2015:
Branden's Road to Rio 2016 (hopefully)
My name is Branden Walton and I am attempting to qualify for a spot on the 2015 National Paralympic Track and Field Team and potentially attend the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. To accomplish these goals I have participate in qualifying events this spring and summer. The first of the events was the Desert Challenge in Tempe, Arizona this May; I finished 1st in 400 and 800 meter race and 2nd in the 1500 and brought home 2 golds and 1 silver medal. I will participate in the 2015 US Paralympic National Championships in St. Paul, MN this June. I will know if I earn a berth on the US delegation after these events. I compete in 3 distances, the 400 meter, the 800 meter and the 1500 meter races.:
2-Gold's and a Silver at the Desert Challenge in Tempe
I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration in both of my eyes when I was only 4 years old. My vision is 20/200 in both of my eyes. My disability has not held me back. I have attended school in Windsor since Pre School. Although, I have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps me get some of my school work enlarged and I use an iPad to assist me, I attend normal classes. I am currently a Junior at Windsor High School.
I have enjoyed running since I was in 5th grade. When I attended Windsor Middle School I was the first 6th grade athlete to ever participate in the Track Program. To this day, I still hold a school record in the 1.5 mile distance. No student before or after me has ever run this distance under 8 Minutes. In 2011, the summer before my freshman year, I became a member of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, and participated in the IBAS World Youth Championships and came home with 2 Golds and 1Silver. As a freshman at Windsor High School I made the Varsity Cross Country Team and the Varsity Distance team. Now I am one of the Captains of both teams. I am currently a member of the USABA, USATF, AAU and licensed by the International Paralympic Committee. In International Competition I compete in the Vision Class T13, this means that my vision is between 20/200 and 20/400 and I do not need a guide runner.
Due to my age and disability, I do not travel be myself and I am seeking assistance in funding these expenses for these events. Each of my qualifying events requires me to be out of the state for 3 to 5 days. I have reached out to the USABA, USATF and to the US Olympic Committee seeking funding also. I would be grateful for anything that could be donated to assist me in my pursuit.
First Place in the 800m with an international field of athletes
Branden Struck Gold in the 400 and 800 Meter and Silver in the 1500 Meter at the 2015 Desert Challenge in Tempe, Az. on the campus of ASU. He also set U.S. National Youth Records in all three Races. It was a fantastic event with over 300 Athletes from all around the World. Now Branden has sights set on the US National Paralympic Championships in 5 weeks.
2015 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field High School All-American
2011 ISBA Youth Championships (USABA)
Gold 1500 Meter
Gold 800 Meter
Silver 4 x 400 Relay
2012 AAU Junior Olympics
Gold 1500 , 3000 Meter
Bronze 800 Meter
2014 US Paralympic National Championships
Silver 1500 Meter
2015 US Paralympic National Championships
Gold 800 Meter
Silver 400, 1500 Meter
2015 IPC Grand Prix-Desert Challenge
Gold 400, 800 Meter
Silver 1500 Meter
2015 National Junior Disability Championships
Gold, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 Meter
5 USA Junior National Records
To donate To Branden Walton’s USA Blind Athletes “Athlete Development Account” go to the following site:
The following page will come up:
Click on the “donate Toward a Team or Individual’s Goal” dot and type in “Branden Walton” in the search window, then click on “Search”
Then click on the spot “Sponsor Branden Walton – Individual, and click on “Next”:
The billing information page will come up:
Fill in the requested information and click “next”. A page will come up where you can specify how you would like your donation to be recognized or identified, and space for a message to be displayed with your gift.
Fill in in and then Click on Next to get a summary page:
Click on Next:
Thank You !!!