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Expert at transforming Dreams into Reality
Speaker | Author | Blind Ultra-Athlete
Jason was born of humble beginnings, and was raised with his brother by a single mother. In middle school Jason was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative retinal disease. The condition is characterized by night-blindness, decreased visual acuity and a consistent loss of peripheral vision. Despite the diagnosis, he played high school Football and Wrestling where he was captain of the teams, and he participated in Track.
His eyesight presented many obstacles in reading, test taking, socializing, dating and playing sports. At one point, the school district assessed Jason to determine whether special accommodations were necessary for him to access his education. During an IQ test, it was determined that he quickly and effectively implemented coping strategies to compensate for deficient eyesight to such a degree that his IQ tested off the scoring chart of the particular test.
He and his brother were the first generation in the family to attend college. Jason studied Business Administration at the University of San Diego, He enjoyed a spirited college experience, played rugby and was an Honors Student. He graduated magna cum laude, and pursued a law degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he was awarded a full-ride scholarship.
Jason discovered endurance sports and ran his first marathon while he was in law school. He was inspired by his Uncle Ted Epstein who was a pioneer of ultra-athletics. Once Jason witnessed his Uncle Ted competing in a 6-day foot race on a 1/8th mile track, he was hooked. Jason saw that there were no limits and anything was possible. He began training for his first marathon in 1993, and would do his long runs by having his mother drive him to Boulder, then he would run to Denver on the shoulder of the highway. He would do this without water, food, sunscreen or a cell phone. Jason is noted to say, "I was either very stupid or very courageous . . . as I age the former seems more appropriate." It would be 14 years until he ran another marathon.
In 2007, Jason helped start a non-profit school for children with Autism in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In order to raise funds for the organization, he decided to dust off his running shoes. He had always dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. In 2008, Jason finally qualified for the Boston Marathon. After that he thought, "what next?" He began competing in sprint triathlons in June 2008, and completed his first IronMan triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) four months later in October of the same year. In 2009, Jason ran the Boston Marathon and completed 2 more IronMan triathlons in the same year. He again thought, "what next?"
On January 1st 2010, the year Jason was going to turn 40, he celebrated by lacing up his shoes and running 40 miles in a single outing. That year he took on the Leadman challenge in Leadville, Colorado. This was a series of 5 events that took place over a 10 week time period at 10,000' elevation. Jason finished the Trail Marathon, the 50 mile Mountain Bike Race, the 100 mile Mountain Bike Course, the 10k, but was pulled off the 100 mile trail run course by race officials at mile 85 after 26 hours on the course due to moving too slow to finish before the 30 hour cut-off. He sought redemption in successive years and completed the Leadville 100 trail run in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He has competed in a 72 Hour footrace where he placed 3rd and covered 205 miles. He became the first blind to person to win an ultra-marathon outright, and he is the first and only blind person to have run across America (VISIONRUNUSA). He established and holds World Records for the US Transcontinental Run, 1000 mile, 10 day, 6 day, 72 hour, 48 hour, 24 hour 100 mile, 50 mile and 50k run for blind & visually impaired athletes. Jason completed a solo double crossing of the Grand Canyon in a single day, and hopes to continue adventuring and pushing himself to hew heights and adventures. Jason's motto is, "WHO NEEDS SIGHT, WHEN YOU HAVE 'VISION'!"
Fulton Sun (5/1/16), Blind runner includes mid-Missouri in solo run from LA to Boston
The Today Show (11/6/14), 'Relentless Romero': Blind ultra-runner tests limits of spirit and endurance