Surgeon Teams Up with Blind California Marathoner

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SACRAMENTO -- Runners are preparing for Sunday's California International Marathon. Thousands are expected to crowd the streets of Sacramento.

One special athlete is looking forward to completing his first marathon, but he can't actually see the course he's running.

Newton Nguyen is blind. "I don't really see objects, I just see aggregates of objects," he said.

Nguyen was born with a condition causing his vision to worsen over the years, but it doesn't stand in his way. The UC Berkeley graduate student is an accomplished triathlon competitor, and Sunday he'll take on the California International Marathon.

"I am going to finish; it'll be a lot of fun," he said.

Nguyen's first attempt at a marathon won't be done alone. Kaiser Permanente retina surgeon Dr. Vincent Hau will run alongside him. The two will be tethered together.

"They can't navigate a race like this to avoid speed bumps, pot holes, running into folks so they ask somebody like me to assist them," Hau said.

Hau has been a guiding the visually impaired in marathons since 2015. The Southern California surgeon said being a guide helps him understand his patients.

Sunday marks Hau's seventh marathon as a guide.

"I'm just there as a source of support and make sure that they don't run into any problems," Hau said.

Completing the race isn't just about vision. Nguyen will use other senses to get him through the race.

"I'm listening to the crowds listening to his footsteps to see if I'm going in a straight line," Nguyen said.

The route from Auburn Folsom Road to the state capitol is tough, but the team is ready for the challenge.