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Monday, February 18, 2013

KTRK producer leads the blind through triathlons

TV producer Justin Sternberg helps those you can't see run the Ironman races

KTRK abc13 special projects producer Justin Sternberg has put his body through a lot and I'm not just talking about his TV career. On the side, he's been running since 2005. It started with the half marathon and then moved on to a triathlon.

But it was when he was preparing stories for the ABC owned station's Chevron Houston Marathon coverage that he found something that would be one of his greatest physical and mental challenges.

"I wanted to do a story on visually impaired and blind athletes taking on the course, and as I did my research, I ran into an organization, actually based out of Sugar Land, Texas called CDifferent," Sternberg told "Their mission is to help visually impaired and blind athletes compete in endurance events around the world. Everything from a 5K to the Ironman."

Sternberg contacted CDiffernet founder Matt Miller and soon he was leading Charlie Plaskon, a blind grandfather, on a 30K in Sugar Land. In a strange twist of fate, Sternberg had just seen Plaskon on NBC's coverage of the Ford Ironman Championship. Plaskon was the inspiration for Sternberg to seek out the story in the first place.

More races as a guide were in Sternberg's future after that, but this biggest challenge came at the inaugural Ironman Texas when he and Plaskon finished this grueling event.

"Fifteen plus hours after the gun went off we crossed the finish line," Sternberg told me. "This is arguably one of my greatest accomplishments, but you won’t find my name on any participant list, or even that I completed the race, that’s because I am his eyes. It was all for him, and I would do it again for any visually impaired or blind athlete looking to full fill their dream of becoming an Ironman. After that day I truly came full circle. The man who inspired me to run the Ironman trusted me to guide him through his 7th. It’s a day I will never forget."

Sternberg will once again hit the track, this time at the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas in The Woodlands on May 18, 2013. It will be his third Ironman Texas and his second time solo. He will be raising money for CDifferent with a goal of $2,000 plus dollars.

See more at his site:

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