Wings for Life World Run

Today I ran my second Wings for Life World Run. This is an incredible event. I enjoyed it so much last year that I signed up immediately thereafter for this year’s race.

Here is the link to last year’s blog post. 

The race is held simultaneously in 25 locations spread out all over the world – the majority being in Europe. In addition to the 25 events they have an app where additional runners can run, timed and measured by the app at other locations all over the world. Altogether there were 150,000 + runners who participated in the race.  The US locations for the race include Sunrise, Florida and Santa Clarita, California.

If the race is going to be held all over the world, someone is going to have to run in the middle of the night. The Santa Clarita race starts at 4:00 a.m.  So, this morning I woke up at 1:30, and left the house at about 2:10. I arrived at the mall in Santa Clarita, hit the porta potty and checked in. I took my stuff back to the truck and stayed in it for awhile debating on what layers to wear. The temp was in the 40s. It had been raining and the forecast was 50/50 for more rain. I opted for an old tech long sleeve over my normal green race shirt – so I could throw it away if I wanted to.

On my way back to the start I passed the porta potties and was surprised to see the one on the end available. I made a quick glance and saw no line so availed myself of it… Exiting a few minutes later I saw that there was a LONG line opposite the porta potties. Ooops. Sorry, to all those who were waiting in line.

I made my way as far into the chute as I could. I was about 10m back and it looked like there were plenty of people ahead of me who should not have been….

As the race began, I had to do some bobbing and weaving for 100 m or so to get clear.

The Wings for Life World Run is a unique event. There is no finish line. Everyone starts the race by running past a car with timing sensors mounted on the side. A half hour after the race begins the “Catcher Car” starts off. It chases at a speed of 15 km/hr (about 6:25 pace) for an hour. Then it speeds up to 16km/hr (6:00 pace) for an hour, then 17km/hr for an hour, then 20 km/hr for 2 hours, then 35 km/hr. Last year I managed to run 26.6 km – 16.4 miles at a pace of 8:08 min/mile before I was caught.

My big goal for today was to maintain an 8:00 pace, which would net me more than 17 miles. My secondary goal was to PR –  to run faster and farther than last year. My “I’d still be happy” goal was to maintain my marathon goal pace of 8:12 – 8:15. I just about got my big goal – if it were not for a hilly section from mile 5 to 10, and the fact that the last 4 miles were all gradually uphill –  I would have made it. I finished, according to my Garmin, with an average pace of 8:02…. and I finished strong.  Here is a table of my HALF MILE split data, including cadence and stride length.

Time Pace Cadence Stride Length
1 04:08.0 8:16 177 1.14
2 03:58.4 7:57 182 1.13
3 03:49.8 7:40 183 1.16
4 04:01.0 8:02 180 1.12
5 04:04.0 8:08 179 1.11
6 03:53.5 7:47 180 1.16
7 03:53.6 7:47 178 1.16
8 03:57.9 7:56 179 1.14
9 03:55.9 7:52 180 1.15
10 03:52.6 7:45 180 1.17
11 04:03.9 8:08 179 1.12
12 04:17.9 8:36 180 1.05
13 03:59.7 7:59 178 1.14
14 04:11.7 8:23 176 1.1
15 03:58.6 7:57 179 1.13
16 04:10.2 8:20 179 1.09
17 04:08.2 8:16 180 1.1
18 04:07.4 8:15 180 1.1
19 03:58.7 7:57 181 1.14
20 04:16.1 8:32 182 1.05
21 04:02.0 8:04 181 1.12
22 03:59.4 7:59 183 1.12
23 03:52.6 7:45 182 1.16
24 03:55.7 7:51 182 1.14
25 03:55.5 7:51 183 1.13
26 03:59.0 7:58 183 1.12
27 03:58.6 7:57 181 1.13
28 04:03.4 8:07 182 1.11
29 03:57.7 7:55 183 1.13
30 04:00.6 8:01 183 1.11
31 04:00.8 8:02 183 1.11
32 04:03.5 8:07 183 1.1
33 04:02.7 8:05 183 1.1
34 04:01.4 8:03 183 1.11
35 02:26.7 7:34 186 1.16

Here is a graph showing the elevation profile and pace. Notice the uptick in pace at the finish….

Wings for Life World Run PR Woo Hoo Run Strava

After I passed the 26 kilometer mark, I knew I had only a few minutes to go. There were a couple of guys not too far ahead of me so I surged on to see if I could catch someone. A few minutes later I began to hear commotion behind me. A bicyclist passed me and I asked him if the car was there. He said, “Yes, Finish strong runner!” So, I sped up some more. Just then a motorcycle passed on my right with a cameraman on the back. He was video taping me. I passed a guy, I heard another trying to come up and catch me. I dug deeper. There was one more guy up there but he was still 20-30m ahead. I glanced back and saw the car. Somehow I found a little more, and made a gap on the guy chasing me. I sensed him drop back and succumb to the catcher car.  I pulled ahead of the other guy and sensed him drop off as he was caught by the car. I continued another 4 or 5 seconds before the car got me as well.

I have spent the last few hours watching the telecast of the race hoping that they aired this epic battle…. but alas…. no….

Garmin has me running 17.3 miles in 2:19:06 – an 8:02 pace. My official result has a distance of 28.0 km, which is the equivalent of 17.39 miles… so 17.4.  I placed 66th out of 1652 runners. 5th of 47 in an apparently tough 55-59 age division. Globally I placed 6313 of 150,000+ runners and 128th of 1863 in my age division.

This reminds me, I could not figure out the runners near me. The race course was always on the right side of the road. They ALWAYS had the entire right side of the road closed for us. There were orange cones going down the center and yellow cones marking off the lane to the right of the center. I figure that the purpose of the coned off center lane was to provide a place for the catcher car. Early in the race, the runners got into the center lane and ran there. I ran the tangents using the entire right side of the road. I felt a little awkward at times all by myself to the right. After one particular left turn there was a water stationg far right. Now the runners moved to the right side and stayed there. We made a series of lefts and they all stayed on the far right of the road. Later, they managed to get back into the center lane… while we made a series of right turns… It seemed the crowd was doing just the opposite of running the tangents…. Once we got onto Soledad Canyon for the last few miles, as the end drew near, there were indeed vehicles occasionally using the center lane. We all stayed to the right, but I ran tangents within that area.

After a short while a bus pulled up and that last guy and I got in. We had a nice drive back to the mall where we received a nice medal:

20170507_064445An exciting side note – today’s 17.3 miles put me at 505 miles for the year!

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