Provided photo. (Intrepid Travel)
A man who lost his vision became the first blind person to hike the 26-mile Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in one day.
Dan Berlin, a runner who lives in Colorado with his wife and two kids, lost his eyesight over the course of twenty years due to cone-rod dystrophy.
He struggled with the limitations of his new reality. But instead of simply feeling sorry for himself, he says he came up with a new way to approach the rest of his life.
He and three other athletes formed Team See Possibilities. The group takes on endurance challenges around the world linked to charitable causes, in an effort to encourage people to overcome their obstacles.
The group recently teamed up with Intrepid Travel, the company who sponsored the adventure, to take on the challenge in Peru.
The trek ascends from approximately 9,000 feet to over 14,000 feet elevation. Hikers on the Inca Trail typically take four days, but the team planned to go non-stop.
The group reached Machu Picchu in just 13 hours, making Berlin the first blind athlete to accomplish the feat.
Intrepid Travel was able to arrange exclusive permits so the team could start at 4:30 a.m. on the day of the hike and got special access after closing hours.
"The main Intrepid Travel guide, Elyas, actually ran the Inca Trail the week before the run to time the route for Dan, before joining Dan on the trek," Michael Sadowski of Intrepid Travel said. "He knew exactly what time Dan and the team needed to be where in order to complete the run in a single day."
Aside from Machu Picchu, Berlin and his team have run several marathons, completed two Half Ironman triathlons and even ran across the Grand Canyon and back nonstop—making Berlin the first blind athlete to complete this as well.
"At the most basic level, I am a father of 2 awesome children, Talia 15 and Ky 11, and as such, strive to be an inspiring role model for them," Berlin told kmtwanderlust.com. "We often talk about setting goals and following your dreams in life even in the face of adversity. I hope to be an example for them of how we can take obstacles in our path and turn them into springboards for positive change."