Olympian runner Marla Runyan was born on January 4, 1969, in Santa Maria, California.  At the age of nine Runyan developed Stargardt’s Disease, which is a form of macular degeneration that left her legally blind. Stargardt’s is the most common cause of blindness in the United States.   Despite the effect Stargardt’s had on Runyan’s vision, she did retain her peripheral vision.  She attended Adolfo Camarillo High School, graduated in 1987, and then she received a B.S. in Education of the Deaf at San Diego State University and a M.S. in Education of Deaf-Blind Children in 1994.