Last Sunday on 7th May I took part in Wings for Life World Run for the very first time. It was the 4th edition of this amazing event, and I feel so grateful for being there. Why? As this is not a type of running event you know or hear about – the idea is so brilliant that I’m giving a standing ovation to the organizers who came up with it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Whether you are at the beginning of your running adventure or you are already an experienced runner, put this event on your Bucket list, the next one is in May 2018.
What is so unique about it? And why was it so special for me?
1. It’s happening simultaneously all over the world
Everybody starts at the same moment, 11am UTC. Whether it’s day or night, bright sun or pouring rain at your location – you’re running together with the world and sharing an amazing experience. Anywhere between USA, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, most European countries, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and Australia. So you can run with your family or friends even though you are living in different countries. Your name shows up on a Global Result List, too.
2. The finish line is completely different to all the other races
In this race everyone goes through the finish line. A half hour after the race starts, a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car” chases runners along the course. The car speeds up at steady increments until they have caught up with every single competitor and knocked them out of the race. So the distance you end up running with depends on how fast you run. These vehicles are what make Wings for Life World Run unique, so it’s only right to sit some special faces behind the wheel. Local heroes and international stars are taking the control at every event, so in UK – Formula One driver – David Coulthard, in Poland – former ski jumper and current rally driver Adam Małysz and in Mexico football captain Rafa Marquez, to name a few.
3. 100% of all entry fees and donations are going to a good cause
All entry fees and all donations raised through fundraising campaigns goes directly to life-changing spinal cord research projects and clinical trials at renowned universities and institutes worldwide. The nonprofit Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation is a driving force behind the mission, so we are all running for those who can’t.
4. The event so far attracted over 430 000 people from around the globe
So far Wings for Life World Run attracted more than 430,000. In the first 3 editions people from 193 nationalities ran more than 38 countries across six continents. They raised 13.8 million euros while covering more than 2.8 million kilometers
5. We took part in this race as a family
In Cambridge/UK I was running with my mum-in-law, my bro-in law, his girlfriend Ewelina and couple of friends. We were supported by my hubby, dearest son Kuba and my parents who came over to visit. My sister Gosia was running with our friends Magda and Robert in Poland, so even though we are living in different countries, we could take part in the same event, sharing the same experience and sending all positive thoughts towards each other.
6. It was my longest run since September 2016
After completing half-marathon in September in Poland and 10k in Olympic Stadium in London in November with my sister, I wasn’t training for any particular event. I was running here and there in preparation for Wings for Life but not really following any plan and no more than 10k. However based on my current form and speed I was aiming to do 18k.
7. A bit of My Personal Story about this race
The day didn’t start well for me. After spending the day before in freezing cold supporting my hubby, bro-in-law and a friend in Rat Race (13 miles and 150 crazy obstacles) I woke up with really sore throat. On top of that something was wrong with my knee and even walking was quite painful. Anyway, we got to Cambridge, picked up our numbers, and after kissing hubby, parents and my little son Kuba, we all got to the start line. I was in the second wave with my bro-in-law and a friend (yes, the ones who just done Rat Race the day before…they are my heroes…). My mum-in-law and Ewelina were in the third wave.
When we started, the guys went off and I was running on my own. I wanted to keep the speed around 5:30/km. That was my first time in Cambridge, and after getting a feeling of this beautiful city, I know that we will be back to spend some more time there.
Quite demanding uphill welcomed us at the second kilometer. It was still crowded and narrow, so I couldn’t really pass other runners. I was feeling well; my time was good, even better than I thought. I felt my throat, swallowing was painful, but surprisingly I didn’t feel any discomfort in my knee. After 8k my friend Marta caught me and we’ve done over 1.5k together. She is a faster runner to me, so I wasn’t keen to continue running at her speed for any longer; otherwise I might not be able to cover the whole 18k.
It was sunny, it was warm and I was wearing long sleeves, T-shirt on top and a little scarf around the neck to protect my throat… After about 11k we were on the countryside road, in an open field with the sun and wind in the face. I don’t like running with head wind as you feel that you are not moving forward. On top of the above, at 15k, it was uphill again and I was struggling, that was my longest kilometer there.
I still had my goal to accomplish 18k, and with my current speed I knew I could do it. 18k and I was still running. I was impressed, but at the same time I was hoping for the catcher car to save me here and there. It’s funny how much of mixed emotions and contradictory thoughts go through your head at any one time of running 🙂 I’m sure all runners can relate to that. 19k passed and still running, started hearing motorbikes with people saying that the catcher car will be there any minute. So, exhausted at that stage, waiting to finish, I felt so close to 20k that I decided to push myself and speed up. Many runners have done the same while others had no power and slowed down even more. It was quite narrow again with those motorbikes on the right hand side, so it was impossible to pass anyone at that stage.
Still pushing myself forward I could hear the car approaching…come one, few more steps, few more steps…”I caught you”…NOOOOOOOO… The guy behind the catcher car was saying through the microphone: “Congratulations, you’ve made 19.5k”. I was proud as I didn’t expect to cover such a long distance but a little disappointed with that final 500 metres to get to 20k – for sure that was due to that massive hill at the 15k…and wind in the face…
Anyway, the race was over for me and I was happy. My form was better than I thought but there is still much more to improve on before Berlin marathon in September.
Fortunately, the drink/food station and bus stop was just around the corner…I was hungry and thirsty. My legs were shaking. The buses brought us back to the start line where we all met again. My mum-in-law managed to do 9.3k, Ewelina with injured knee over 12k, my friend Marta over 21k and the guys went really far with over 31.5k. My sister in Poland was caught after 13k. Big congratulations to everyone.
8. Everyone all over the world is getting the same T-shirt
You are getting a medal and a beautiful bright colour T-shirt. If you ever see anyone wearing it, once you are on holidays, or up for a run in your local park or anywhere in the world – you know that you’ve done this race together.
9. After completion, we were still following the race on the big screen at the start line
The buses brought us back to the start line, where on the big screen we were watching what’s happening in the event all over the world. We could see and support the winners still going through regardless of the heat, cold, rain, wind, sun, day or night as well and overcoming their cramps and tiredness. Well, some of them looked like they’ve just started…
Global winner – Swedish Aron Anderson in Dubai has done 92.14k. I’m so proud of Polish people who really smashed it this year. The runner with the further running distnce of 88.24k was Polish Bartosz Olszewski in Milan. Polish Dominika Stelmach made a female world record with over 68.21k in Chile. In Poland we had 2 other male winners – Tomasz Walerowicz with 85.14k and Dariusz Nożyński with 68.74k. Polish Jacek Cieluszewski with 68.80k won the race in UK as well. Honestly WOW. Congratulations to everyone involved all over the world. You freaking rock.
10. Getting personal certificate with the number in the global ranking
Once the race is finished, you can check your name on a global results list online. It gives you your number in the global female or male ranking as well as your number in the country ranking. You are also getting personal Wings for Life certificate that you can print out and stick on the wall 🙂
To sum up – I loved this race – the idea, the catcher car finish line, the atmosphere before, during and after the race. I loved being a part of the global race and the feeling of accomplishment when I put the medal around my neck.
Next edition – May 2018 – make sure you reserve your place. I will see you there 🙂