2017 was the first Wings For Life #worldrun experience for both my husband and I. What a great event and for a terrific cause!
What is the Wings for Life #worldrun?
The Wings for Life annual run is a global charity event.
Everyone around the world starts at exactly the same time, 11am UTC on race day.
For us in Melbourne this year, this was last Sunday 7th May 2017 at 9pm.
The unique aspect to this event is that your run finishes when the “Catcher Car” catches you!
You have 30 minutes before the car starts. When it gets going, it moves at 15km per hour and progressively increases its speed. Once the car passes you, that’s the end of your race!
You can use the handy goal calculator to work out how far you might get on your an estimated running pace.
The Wings for Life run starts in 25 locations on six continents running simultaneously!
If you are not able to be at one of these locations, you can still participate as an app runner, either on your own or with one of the organised app running locations.
Support for Spinal Cord Research
Also unique to this event is that 100% of your entry fee and any donations raised through the fundraising campaigns, go directly to spinal cord research via the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation.
Generously, the event’s major sponsor, Red Bull, covers the entire administrative costs of the Foundation in addition to the costs associated with the Wings for Life World Run.
In 2017, there were 155,288 people that registered and supported the Wings for Life run.
Significantly, €6.8million was raised for spinal cord research with runners in 111 locations across 58 countries.
Globally, the record distances run were:
MALE – Aron Anderson from Sweden in the Dubai event completed an amazing distance of 92.14km in his wheelchair.
FEMALE – Dominica Stelmach from Poland in the Santiago event ran an inspiring 68.21km.
You can watch video highlights of this year’s event below.
Source: Wings For Life
Our Melbourne Experience
Melbourne at night!
Being on the other side of the world, Melbourne’s Wing for Life event started in the dark. As such, our race kits included a headlamp and reflector sash. These were very necessary items seeing as we were also running along the Monash Freeway!
Registrations and start section
When you register you are asked for your best recent running time. From this, your start section is designated, which is the order you move up to the start line. Based on our Gold Coast Marathon event half marathon times from last year, my husband and I started off together in Section 2. (Well, that was actually because hubby entered a slower time for himself so he could start back with me…oh so sweet!)
There is a small walk from the marshalling area to the start line so they begin leading everyone down the ramp from Patterson Reserve, Hawthorn to the freeway ramp entrance pretty early to make sure everyone is ready to go for the global start time of 9pm Melbourne time. After circling around looking for a car park, we only just made it in time to join our section which had just been called to head off! (Hint: make sure you get there a bit earlier!)
Running along the Monash Freeway!
Being Wings for Life newbies, we weren’t really sure what to expect on this night run. Despite the rain, the run was pretty comfortable being on the road with no uneven ground to contend with.
Unexpectedly though, the run was not flat as somehow I expected in my mind. I obviously don’t have any concept of hills when I am in the car! Pretty much the first 10kms was one long incline with undulating hills thereafter. Or did I just think it was that hilly as my thighs were still recovering from our race the day before?
As we pretty much signed up for the event in the lead-up week, I really hadn’t put much thought into what it meant to run on the Monash Freeway. And it really didn’t hit me until later in the race when the crowd thinned out a bit and the cars travelling in the next lane became more prominent.
At first it was ok, but a couple of times, there were some seriously large semi trailers that seemed to zoom by pretty fast. I have to admit, a bit scary! After that I didn’t worry too much about taking the straightest path, I just moved to the far inside lane as far away from the traffic as possible. Somehow the oncoming traffic on the other side didn’t seem so threatening with a bit of superficial space in between. Nevertheless, there were police cars regularly patrolling, presumably to ensure the traffic was slower and safer. My husband on the other hand, didn’t seem phased at all about running on the road with the traffic still flowing, so each person’s experience may vary.
There were drink stations on the course, with water, Red Bull and 50/50 water and Red Bull. There are also bananas provided. Portable toilets are available too although there were obviously plenty of guys who just couldn’t wait!
Just a heads up…. beware how much Red Bull you have! I think it did keep me going on the course. I only had it diluted and didn’t think I had too much… but I couldn’t sleep the entire night after the race!!
Transport back to the start
We each had to walk about 1 to 1.5kms before a bus arrived to pick us up after our raced finished. Because it rained throughout the event, everyone was not only exhausted but very cold and wet. I thought I was clever tying a jacket around my waist for the run so that I could keep warm once finished but it was wet! Still better than nothing though. My husband took the space blanket that was included in the race kit and he said this did keep him a bit warmer.
Even though you are cold, and in this race wet, and totally exhausted from the run, one of the most lovely things about having to walk, wait and travel back on the bus is meeting the other runners. This is another unique part of the event. I met some really lovely people both on the walk and on the bus. I also heard some inspiring stories along the way. This was one of the highlights of the event for me too.
Wings for Life #WorldRun 2018
Sounds like fun? You can pre-register for the 2018 event now! The next event will be held on 6th May 2018.
I would really love to run it again, who’s in?