Dressed in a salmon-pink sun hat and translucent rain jacket, Janet Leonard leaned into the wind, over the railing and gave the golden cowbell tied around her neck a firm shake.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Her sweetheart of 22 years picked out the familiar sound from the hundreds of screaming onlookers. He glanced in her direction, offered a big smile and two thumbs up then turned back toward the finish line of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Leonard snapped a picture with her digital camera. She'd share it with the couple's friends and family back home in Lakewood, Colo. But her sweetheart would not see the picture. He's blind. "Janet is my manager, my support crew, my coordinator, my guide,” said Kerry Cook, 50, whose Type 1 diabetes caused him to lose his vision nearly three decades ago. "She's also my fiancee — has been for 15 or 20 years.” He grinned. "We're not rushing things.” Cook and Leonard met in 1985, when Cook's blindness was still categorized as legal, not total.
Sights are set on BostonLeonard is really one of three loves in Cook's life. The second is his seeing-eye dog, Audi, a Labrador retriever whose hair is more cream than yellow. The third is running. Audi guided Cook through his first ever race, the 2006 Bolder Boulder in Colorado. But she was forced to watch from behind the gates on Sunday. "There aren't a lot of races where guide dogs are permitted,” Cook said. So when Cook decided he would attempt to qualify for next year's Boston Marathon — blind runners need only finish in less than five hours — by running at Oklahoma City this weekend, he sought a fitter guide.
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Blind runner Kerry Cook walks with his guide, Matt Guidry, after finishing the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday. BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN