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Imagine for a moment hurtling down a roadway as fast as your legs could carry you—all the while blindfolded. Sound scary? Henry Wanyoike does it every day, along the dirt roads around his Kenyan village and on the speedy tracks of Olympic stadiums. Wanyoike, 38, has won three gold medals in three Paralympics—his first in the 5000m at Sydney in 2000—setting two world records for a blind runner in the process. This year in London, he is aiming to medal in his first Paralympic marathon.

The fact that Wanyoike runs at such intense speeds while totally blind is truly remarkable, a testament to both his raw athletic talent and iron guts. I know that from personal experience. I, too, am losing my sight, due to a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa. There is no treatment or cure, no way of slowing the descent into blindness. Today, I still see much better than Wanyoike, but I can barely find my way at night or down a crowded street. As I visited Wanyoike in his village outside of the town of Kikuyu, I joined him for a stretch of a morning run. The weather was terrible. A cold rain fell on the unpaved roads, turning them into cauldrons of mud. My sight doesn’t allow me to spot potholes or other potential ankle-twisters, and the raindrops splattering my eyeglasses made that task even more difficult. I struggled to keep my footing. Yet Wanyoike ran beside me, unfazed and sure-footed. He can’t run alone, of course. He is joined by a guide, Joseph Kibunja, who acts as his eyes.

Wanyoike didn’t always have such confidence. As a young man, he seemed headed for a promising career as part of Kenya’s famed running teams, until disaster struck in May 1995. At only 20 years old, Wanyoike went suddenly blind, due to a stroke. Unable to care for himself, let alone run, he became despondent, even suicidal. “I was thinking that was the end of me,” he says. “My dream would never come true.”

Yet it did. After several years, with the help of encouraging teachers and doctors, Wanyoike learned to run again with the aid of a guide. Now he participates in races from Hong Kong to Hamburg, an inspiration not only to disabled people in Kenya, but also to the poor children of his home region of Kikuyu as well. Wanyoike still lives near to where he was born, humbly in little more than an upgraded shack. Though he wishes he could see his wife and children at least once, Wanyoike doesn’t look backwards, to the life he had when he was sighted. “For 17 years, since I lost my sight, I think I have done so many (more) things than what I did for 21 years before,” Wanyoike says. “The most important thing is to accept yourself.”

I’d like to say I found Wanyoike and his life story inspiring, especially since I am facing a similar fate. He is an inspiration, of course, to anyone dealing with disability or adversity. But what struck me most is how differently Wanyoike and I have approached our condition. Wanyoike has come to accept what has happened to him, and has gained strength from that acceptance. I, however, strive to overcome my failing sight by stubbornly refusing to accept the problem exists. My visit with Wanyoike made me wonder if his way is better.

Read more about Henry Wanyoike at TIME.com.

Dominic Nahr, a TIME contract photographer, is represented by Magnum.

Michael Schuman writes about Asia and global economic issues as a correspondent for TIME in Beijing.

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I arrived in Charlotte, N.C. early on the day of the South Carolina primary and headed straight to Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville. Newt Gingrich was giving an electrifying speech inside as a crowd milled around outside. The previous week I’d covered my first presidential primary in New Hampshire, where many events were disrupted by attention seekers and protesters. Occupy Wall Street supporters came to a Mitt Romney rally and were quickly thrown out by police. At a Ron Paul event, a man with a boot on his head named Vermin Supreme made chicken noises and claimed that if he were elected president, every American would get a pony.

South Carolina was more restrained. There were no active protesters. A lone Ron Paul supporter kept a silent vigil a respectful distance away. Tommy’s Ham House continued to serve breakfast. I didn’t try their famous ham, but their hot cakes were excellent. Gingrich left in a bus with a giant portrait of his face emblazoned on the side. It started pouring and the crowd hid under signs that read, ‘Newt 2012. Rebuilding the America We Love.’

Next, Gingrich stopped at a nearby middle school serving as a voting station. He patiently shook every hand of the assembled crowd, numbering close to a hundred. There were only a few journalists, compared to New Hampshire, where the media often ringed the candidates three or four deep.

One of the last stops of the day was a Gingrich campaign gathering at a Chick-fil-A in Anderson. Like most Gingrich events, it was packed to the brim, with supporters pressing their faces against the restaurant’s windows to get a peek. Sometimes the event locations seemed arbitrary. Why a Chick-fil-A, which was founded in Georgia, instead of a locally-owned business? Another journalist speculated it was because of the widely-promoted Christian values of its founder, Truett Cathy. All the candidates were trying to woo the evangelical base, and nearly everyone at the event was caucasian.

Gingrich would beat Romney to win the South Carolina primary that evening. The victory party that night was restrained, though 1970s and 1980s rock-and-roll classics blared in the packed ballroom. There were a few brief speeches before Gingrich arrived to thank his supporters and attack Barack Obama. Most of the attendees left immediately after the speech was over. I asked where everyone was going and was told the private parties would continue deep into the night.

Peter van Agtmael is a photographer represented by Magnum. His work from Iraq won a World Press Photo award in 2007. More of his work can be seen here.

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