Today I ran in the Wings for Life World Run. This run had 130,732 entrants in 34 locations all around the global. One of the two US locations just happens to be Santa Clarita. Santa Clarita alone had more than 2000 entrants! The race began at 4am… I know, 4 a.m….. If the race is occurring simultaneously all over the globe, someone is going to have to run it in the middle of the night!
I set triple alarms for 1:45 a.m. this morning, got dressed and on the rode by 2:15. I arrived at the Mall in Santa Clarita right around 3. I found the check in, put on my bib, used the port-a-potty and found the starting corral with a half hour to spare.
The Wings for Life World run is a unique event. There is a moving finish line! At 4 a.m. the runners start. At 4:30 a catcher car with timing bib sensors mounted on the side, takes off. The car goes 15 km/hr (6:24 pace) for an hour. Then it speeds up to 16 km/hr for an hour, then 17, then 24 for two hours, then 35 till it catches all the runners.
My entered it thinking that it would be a nice opportunity for a marathon pace training run. In order to qualify for Boston I will have to run a marathon at an 8:20 pace. I was figuring it would be awesome to see if I could run 8:20 until the pacer car caught me. I calculated it ahead of time and figured I would make it about 24K.. almost 15 miles.
As the race began I settled into a comfortable pace. It was dark and did not notice the first several lap splits on my Garmin. The race was marked in Kilometers rather than miles so I was having trouble knowing my pace. I figured i’d just have to run by feel. As the crowd thinned out I started noticing occasional half mile splits… they were typically really close to 4… So, I was guessing I was getting ahead.
5 or 6 miles into the race the course got a little hilly… As is usual for me, after 5 or 6 it was rare for anyone to catch me. I kept picking people off one by one. As the Kilometers got into the 20s I realized I had put myself into an odd situation. In a normal race, if you exceed your goal you are awarded with being done sooner. As I approached 24K there was no sign of the catcher car behind me.
Somewhere in this stretch I noticed a familiar runner ahead of me. Jorge Ortega is a local runner who typically beats me at events. Knowing that the end HAD to be coming soon I allowed myself to push the pace a bit. I heard some cars and went full speed for a bit. Then 4 or 5 patrol cars went by… false alarm. I finally caught Jorge and he seemed intent on being done. I managed to pull slowly ahead. 25K went by,… 26K… Finally I heard people reacting as the car caught them I surged and passed one more guy. At 26.6 K – 16.4 miles I was caught!
My average pace was 8:09 on a course that actually ended up as a net uphill. The first 22K or so was a net even with a big loop, but the final miles (for me) were north east on Soledad Canyon… A slight steady climb. Turns out I was 89th place overall in the race…
AND FIRST PLACE IN MY AGE GROUP !! (Thanks to catching Jorge) I have won or placed in my age group at quite a few races… Races as big as perhaps 100 runners… but never I have placed so well in a race this big!
https://www.strava.com/activities/569522411/embed/829bd2abb5ba2712f4acf7db6fcf3f467722ea82“>Here is the Strava Fly by… for your amusement…
Overall there were some very impressive runners. The top man covered more than 60K and the top woman more than 49! These ultra runners were continued up Soledad to Sand Canyon up the hill and down Placerita! I think some of the other world locations probably had quite an advantage in flatness! The top Male worldwide was in Italy and he covered 88K… Top female in Japan at 65K.
Globally I was 5229 overall… 268th in my age group… out of about 3000.
Best of all I ran 16+ miles at Marathon Goal Pace! I have nearly 3 months more training still to go!
Finally, if you happen to have HOURS to kill… you can watch the world wide telecast of the race online at Red Bull TV