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Wings for Life World Run

04/05/2014

Jo Zakrzewski was invited down to Silverstone for the weekend to take part in the first Wings for Life World Run. This is an interesting new concept of a race organised by Red Bull to raise money for the non-profit Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation...

In brief, it is a worldwide event with thousands of participants running at exactly the same time at 35 different locations on 5 continents. In each location, a "Catcher Car" set off half an hour after the start signal and kept a constant (but increasing on each hour) pace. Each runner wore a race number containing a chip which was activated when they passed the start line, and was deactivated when they were passed on the course by the catcher car. In this way, the finish line chased the runners and the winner was the last person to be left running. As all the starts were simultaneous, not only were there individual event winners, but also a global winner.

Since it had only been a week since her winning run at the Highland Fling, Jo had rightly been a little apprehensive before the race, but was keen to take part as it sounded to her like an interesting concept.

The first 8k of the UK event was run on the Silverstone Racing Circuit, and Jo had moments of doubt early on, but figured that she couldn't stop before the catch car had even started! A large group of men and the leading lady started rather fast, but Jo knew that she wouldn't even make 10k if she ran with them and being used to solo long runs she settled into a pace she could sustain.

An initial target was to get into double figures, but at the 10 mile mark, she realised she was closing down on the leading lady, Edwina Sutton. The main point was to ignore other runners ahead but to stay in front of the catcher car, and Jo was already running at a pace that would see her achieve the marathon distance before being caught. From 13 miles onwards, the two ladies ran together out on the "undulating" country roads enjoying some nice chat. The day was rather warm, and there was no water available for the runners, so the motorcyclist who had been tasked to accompany the leading lady kindly donated some of his packed lunch until he could nip ahead and pick up some water bottles.

The girls passed through the marathon distance in about 3 hours and were rewarded with the knowledge that by then they were the only ladies left running. Jo used words of encouragement to keep the pair going, reeling in the man in front and moving into 4th position overall. Towards the end, as the catcher car bore down on them, Jo was still feeling strong but they decided to finish together and were hand in hand when the car caught them on an uphill stretch having covered 45.39km, which ranked them 7th worldwide.

The leading man in the UK event was Paul Martelletti who covered an amazing 69.37km and finished 5th worldwide.

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