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Video: Guided runner Jay set for toughest sight challenge yet on marathon journey

By Ian Marland at

Jay Semple has refused to let a degenerative eye condition dim his ambition of running a marathon.

And now the West End runner – whose trademark is his kilt – is on course to line up with fellow athletes in Stirling next month.

It is the culmination of years’ of dedication and adjustment to a rare affliction.

Training: Jay has been assisted by the team at running specialists Run 4 It.

All along, his progress has been aided with a little help from many friends.

He relies on people to run with him and guide him by a hand-held cord.

Jay, 37 – real name James, who runs under the name Jay Cruz – was diagnosed with choroideremia in 2013.

The condition affects the blood vessels surrounding the retina and can lead to complete blindness.

He faces losing his sight entirely before he reaches 40.

His only hope of saving some of his vision is gene therapy, but he needs to raise £20,000 to pay for it.

Support: The team at Run 4 It on Bothwell Street have been helping Jay.

Diagnosed with eye problems at an early age, Jay had just taken up running when his sight failed – during a race in Wales four years ago.

His vision returned for a short spell before deteriorating.

But he has been determined to overcome his handicap.

He has completed 90 races covering 5k, 10k and half-marathons and his start in Stirling will mark an incredible achievement.

Jay further aims to compete in a Paralympic event in Japan in 2020.

Jay, who lives in Knightswood, told Glasgow West End Today: “I’m currently training up for my first full marathon in Stirling.

“My long term goal is Tokyo 2020 and competing in the 5000 metres.

“My condition has changed me dramatically. I’ve had to build confidence and learn how to run without any sight.

Jay Semple:

“I can see how tall my son is but I can’t see any details on his face.

“My hope is that gene therapy can save the little vision I have at the moment.

“But I need to raise £20,000 to get that treatment done privately.”

“I can see how tall my son is but I can’t see any details on his face.

“My hope is that gene therapy can save the little vision I have at the moment.

“But I need to raise £20,000 to get that treatment done privately.”

Jay added: “If I can preserve the little bit of eyesight I’ve got left it means I can see a bit of my son.

“It may be that advances in stem cell therapy over the next 10 years or so can help restore some of my eyesight.

“In the meantime, I am keeping positive and hoping for the best.”

Jay has been helped by friends and running clubs including West End Road Runners.

But he is in need of more guides to ensure his training is consistent in the run-up to Tokyo 2020.


Watch: Jay Semple and the team from Run 4 It train along the Clyde.

Before that he is stepping up training ahead of the first Stirling Marathon on May 21.

Glasgow specialist running store Run 4 It has been assisting Jay with kit and training.

Scott Kennedy said his team in the city’s Bothwell Street was delighted to be working with such an inspirational athlete.

Scott: “Jay was known to a few people around the Glasgow scene but he is becoming much higher profile.

“It’s really great to see people recognising what he is doing and the causes he is running for.

“Obviously with the condition that he’s got, he’s reliant on the help of others – and we are hoping to help as much as we can for him.”

* Jay is setting up a crowd funding page soon to help raise the money he needs for treatment. We will bring those details as soon as we get them.