Alan Lawrenson, a fundraising champion from South Shields, recently took part in a grueling 100-mile charity run with the added challenge of experiencing the run with induced hearing loss.

A unique experience

The 29-year-old is raising awareness of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, a charity which trains dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds they would otherwise miss such as the doorbell, telephone, fire alarm and baby monitor.

Alan visited Specsavers Audiologists to have gel moulds fitted into his ears, which inflicted up to 70% hearing loss and rendered him hard of hearing for 30 hours. During the 100-mile North Downs Way 100 run Alan contended with some of the challenges faced by those that are hard of hearing, including isolation and disorientation.

Running in silence

Alan is grateful to Specsavers for helping him with this challenge. He commented: ‘Specsavers has been amazing helping me in this way. I was incredibly nervous about this particular run. Even with many miles under my belt this year already, it was a completely different challenge.

Alan continued: ‘The type of very long distance running I do, I am aware that during a race you have natural highs and lows in terms of mental fatigue. Being deaf in this race meant that I was weaker mentally. I usually listen to music which hugely motivates me during a race but this time I ran in silence. I use my hearing to help me indicate how I am performing and use the sound of my feet hitting the ground as a measurement of how much effort I am exerting – if I am hitting the ground too hard I know I need to ease off. Similarly I use the sound of my breathing as an indicator of how tired I am.’

Unique insight to hearing loss

Nick Taylor, Specsavers chief audiologist, commented: ‘Hearing loss and deafness is not uncommon and affects 11 million people in the UK*. Age-related hearing loss is something that will happen to everyone eventually, but for those who haven’t yet experienced it, it can be difficult to understand what it feels like to lose your hearing. Alan has taken on a huge challenge and for such a brilliant cause. He will have gained a much better understanding of how disorientating and isolating hearing loss and deafness can be, all the while raising awareness for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.’

Specsavers Audiologists recommend that anyone over the age of 55 has their hearing checked once a year.

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*Source: Action on Hearing Loss