On May 4, 2014 Saskatoon runners will line up to take part in a global race that will take place simultaneously across six continents in over 35 locations. The Wings for Life World Run is the first event of its kind: a race with no finish line.
Runners will take off from starting lines across the globe at the same time and instead of trying to be the first to reach the finish line, they will try to outrun a “catcher car”. The car will leave the starting line 30 minutes after the runners and will advance at a set speed, gradually accelerating over time.
“It’s up to everybody to set their objective — how far can they get and how fast can they get there before the car catches them,” said race director Geoff Langford.
The final male and female runners to be caught by the car in each location will be named the local champions and the final male and female runners across the world will be the global champions.
Each local winner will win an all-expense paid trip to the race location of their choice next year while the global champions win an all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world along with a trip to a race their choice.
Saskatoon is the only Canadian venue for the event, joining locations such as Busselton, Australia; Barcelona, Spain and Cape Town, South Africa. Since the event is happening simultaneously around the world, each location had to fit with specific parameters. Runners will also encounter different climates, terrains, and conditions depending on which location they chose.
“We had a number of places across the country that we looked at, but Saskatoon fit [the parameters] really well and we got a great reception from the province and from the city of Saskatoon,” Langford said. “It just came together quite easily.”
The race begins at 10 a.m. UTC, which means Saskatoon runners will take off from Prairieland Park at 4 a.m. From there, participants will head east on Circle Drive and finally south on Highway 11 towards Davidson.
Co-ordinating such a large scale event has posed problems, especially since organizers have no previous experience to draw on.
“As far as I can tell this kind of concept has never been done before, so there’s a lof of creating it as we go — working with traffic management and the province, highways and the city,” Langford said. “The method of the event and closing roads is quite difficult for everybody. It’s been interesting for everybody that’s been involved.”
100 per cent of the events proceeds from the run will go towards the Wings for Life Foundation, an organization which funds research to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
“It’s really a fundraiser,” Langford said of the event. “This is a big global splash event to raise awareness for the charity and to raise funds as well.”
This will be the Wings for Life World Run’s inaugural year, giving runners the chance to experience the world’s first global run.
“There’s going to be quite the camaraderie and sense of craziness out there as people are competing,” Langford said. “It will be one of those experiences people will remember for a long time.”