In 2014 I competed in an event of some description every month from February through to November. This was in part to maintain motivation in training, knowing how to train and bringing variation depending on my upcoming event. There are many classic and in terms of marathons ‘Majors’ events which attract thousands of entries, which can be exciting especially the iconic city landmarks you pass on their courses. However I often find the key to my most memorable events is taking a plunge into the unknown, be it location, distance, setting or the event itself. My running highlight of 2014 ticked all these boxes; ‘Wings for Life – World Run’ – unknown distance, Northamptonshire countryside, based at Silverstone racing track and the inaugural event.
I signed up to this event not sure what to expect, even on the start line I didn’t know how far I was going to run! Not because I hadn’t trained or was feeling ill; this is the only race in the world without a finish line! A ‘catcher’ car sets off from the start line 30 minutes after the start at a gentle speed of 9.32mph eventually reaching 21.72mph! It really is a race which a parkrun 5K runner can happily line up alongside an ultra runner and both ‘win’ their own races!
For years as a child I watched Michael Schumacher race around Silverstone and once I got into running the Silverstone half was one I’ve wanted to do, that now seems a little boring in comparison! Silverstone as a setting was lovely, we were based in the old paddocks, which are still in good condition and there was a buzz about the place, like there would be in the lead up to a Formula 1 race. The course itself involved a lap of the racing track as well as winding in and out of various other tracks – Silverstone is more than a simple loop! Once we had ran around 10K the course lead us into the rolling hills of the Northamptonshire countryside, I never expected this! As we passed through various small villages, the locals came out to play their part and cheer everyone through on what was one of the hottest days of the year to date. I had set myself a target to reach half marathon distance and with that achieved anything else was a bonus! Shortly after that I heard a wall of sound and “the catcher car is chasing you” from the megaphone on board…I dug deep and picked up the pace…after a few nervous turns behind I started to see the car. It was soon hot on my heels and I was squeezing out the last embers of energy I had in me, eventually the time came and it inched past me and my race was over! Advised by the crew the nearest ‘bus stop’ was a few hundred metres behind me I took a few minutes to recover then made a slow walk back towards it. On board everyone was delighted, if not a little shattered by what had been a unique race. At least we were heading back to the paddocks to collect our medal, a finishers tee (one of my favourites!) and free drinks at the post race party!
One highlight in particular was meeting former Formula 1 driver Aussie Mark Webber pre race, not to sound cliché but he is a driver I’ve always liked, mainly due to his interests outside of Formula 1. This is taken from his website “Mark is equally well known for his high level of physical fitness and is a true lover of the great outdoors environment. One of his great passions is seeing people push their limits and setting goals outside of their comfort zones and this extends to Mark himself.” It was great to actually run with Mark for around a kilometre out on the course and push myself to keep up with him! Watching the banter between him and kiwi runner with a Southern cross draped around him was great fun. Another huge draw in me signing up for this run was this was a worldwide event and every runner starts at the same time! Running in the UK meant a 11:00 start, whereas in New Zealand that was a midnight start and out in California a 3AM start! With those start times and the conditions, it is likely the UK event was one of the hottest – who would have thought!? One little note I would add is in terms of aid stations, the ‘energy’ drink of choice was Red Bull – yes it is heavily sponsored by them and they wonderfully support the world of extreme sports but I’m yet to meet an endurance athlete who would choose Red Bull…On a brighter note everyone runs with a chip and there is live tracking on the website for friends and family (and to compare yourself with the famous faces running around the world!)
This years event takes place on Sunday 3rd May and unfortunately I can’t make it but would love to return next year if possible. I considered this as a marathon earlier in the year…but I’d need to be running a 3:08 marathon time! More information on the race can be found here
What’s next for Adventure Adam? The FUN returns with the next London ‘FUN-RUN’ Series event – London Bridge(s) 10Miler – Sunday 22nd details here
Enjoy your week!