There’s a general theme which most running events work on. You all start running from a certain point, and then you keep running until you reach the end. It’s a tried and tested system that generally works pretty well. So it’s not often you see a race that decides to go against that format.
The guys over at Wings For Life have done something a bit different from what most of us runners have come to expect; a race where the finish line chases you. Well, not actually the finish line. It’s David Coulthard in a car (if you’re running the Cambridge event). Even more confused? Okay. Basically everyone starts the race at the same point, then, after half an hour a catcher car sets off relatively slowly. If it passes you, you’re done. Then a bus comes to pick you up and take you back to the start.
If you’re a competitive runner it’s a pretty interesting concept. Pacing a distance is relatively easy if you’ve done it a few times, but how do you pace a race where you’re not sure how long you’re going to be running for? We have no idea, we only got to about 20k.
Put on by the Wings For Life Foundation, a charity raising funds and awareness for Spinal Cord Injury, the event takes place at the same time around the world, across six continents and 25 different countries. 155,288 runners took part internationally with the winning male hitting 92km in Dubai (Aron Anderson, Sweden) and female (Dominika Stelmach, Poland), 68k in Santiago. Pretty impressive hey? And the real clever thing about the race is that people who aren’t comfortable with long distances don’t have to run a half marathon to finish. If you’re a 5k runner then that’s all you have to do, you’ve still ran the race and get a medal.
We headed over to the Cambridge event, where 3,500 people made their way from the city centre out into the surrounding countryside. The last time we took part in the Wings For Life Race was on the track at Silverstone. A drastically different location for the event. Cambridge, as you can probably imagine, is a lot nicer visually, as well as the added bonus that you have a nice crowd… and it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to.
There were a few issues: the queue for the toilets was pretty painful, the bus back took ages, and don’t even mention the ridiculous queue to pick up your bags at the end (seriously, it’s the worst bag drop we’ve seen). But aside from the logistical issues it was a nice event to take part in. Cambridge and its surrounding countryside are joy to run through, the crowds were spot on and for price, you get a lot for your money (T-shirts, food, Red Bull, snacks) especially considering that the whole thing is for charity.
To find out more about this year’s Wings For Life World Run, or to take part next year, head over to the website here.
Picture Credits: Red Bull