A few months back I heard about the Wings for Life World Run through some of my friends at the Nike run groups and friends I made at the Ashmei Ambassador day. I was interested straight away as the concept sounded really cool. It was explained to me that you run around and out of Silverstone and you create your own finish line by running as fast as you choose to then be caught by David Coulthard driving a catcher car.
Similarly to how I signed up to Race to the Stones 100k, every now and then the Red Bull event would be mentioned on Twitter or Facebook and make me want to sign up. So it was only a matter of time really. Also the entry fee funds research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury, so we were running for those who can’t. I’m going to blame James from work aswell because he pointed out it was the day before Bank holiday Monday so I would have a rest day to make the most of.
The main reason I was contemplating entering for so long was because I have four other events in May. It’s going to be pretty tiring this month but hopefully I will be able to recover quickly enough off the back of each event to get respectable times and give them all a good go. I’m so glad I signed up in the end, I’m still on a bit of a high now I think.
I managed to get a seat on the coach with some of the Nike crew which was a good laugh so the journey there and back didn’t seem too long. We got there nice and early and because there wasn’t a huge number of participants it was straight forward with the bag drop and getting to the start etc. On the start line we managed to see David Coulthard briefly and Sophie being a pretty big F1 fan got a picture with him. I’m surprised but she hasn’t really mentioned we met him!!
I decided to start quite near the front as I was aiming to do about 33k if not a bit more. We started at 12 o’clock coinciding with all the other countries. It was amazing to think there were around about 100,000 runners toeing the start line at the same time. I decided to go off at about 7 min/mile pace which was nice and comfortable around the track. Within the first few kilometers a guy called Eric asked me how far I was aiming to run. He wanted to do as close to marathon distance as possible and asked if he could stick with me so I ended up pacing him the whole way round. It was good to chat and the miles flew by (pun intended!!) after about 8k we were out of Silverstone and into the countryside. We spoke with another runner at the same pace. He ran the event last year and was aiming to do 30k. This made me think well if he’s going at this pace now he’s factoring in something… Hills!!?? Hmm.
Yep there were hills. This made it a more challenging course but also meant we got to see some great views of the countryside. It reminded me a lot of running and training down in Devon which was nice. Me and Eric kept a steady pace and went through 13.1 miles in 1:34. Due to the hills we slowed quite a lot but we kept pushing and he said if we couldn’t get to a marathon distance we had to do 35k at least. We did well to keep a decent pace taking on lots of water and having a couple gels. It was good to have bananas at the stations too. Lots of water was needed as it was quite a hot and windy day (sunburn and windburn are my only injuries!) An underlayer was definitely not needed but then who would be stupid enough to wear one of them! (Yes me! Ha)
We got through 35ks with no sound of the catcher car behind us. Just after the 36k mark the cyclist accompanying the catcher car came passed and let us know it was 30 seconds behind us. We upped the pace and sprinted a well timed downhill section. The car got closer and closer and me and Eric began to race each other. He caught me off guard a bit and gunned it. I wasn’t having any of that, pacing him all the way round to be out sprinted near the end, no way. So I got passed him before the car got to us and then I started to feel reasonably comfortable at 6:30 min/mile pace for a bit so I kept pushing and took another place. I then got to an uphill section next to another runner I sprinted passed him with the car just behind but he had a sprint in him too so I surrendered the position and David Coulthard came past smiling with his thumb up. It was such an adrenaline kick it’s hard to put it into words but i’ll remember it for a long time. I managed 37k in the end which made me 13th for te UK run and just inside the top 1,000 worldwide. After being caught we got picked up by a shuttle bus. It was cool to pick up the guys who had finished further up the road. At one point we thought we were going to have to drive to get the winner, Tom Payn. Luckily we didn’t have to as he managed a big 61ks. Working with Tom he said he was aiming for 70ks but in tough conditions 61k is a great effort especially due to him cramping around 40ks. The event was amazing and if I can fit it into my calendar for next year I will be back to hopefully get in a few more kilometers. I recommend you keep an eye on Toms running in the next few months and years, he gets to do the wings for life run in another country next year so I’m sure he will get in some big mileage then as Silverstone is probably one of the hardest courses.
Overall the event was great, I would recommend everyone giving it try. Whether you want to do 10k or 70k you can create your finish line due to pacing. Well done to everyone that did the Wings for Life UK and World runs. If you ran or supported how did you find it? Tweet me or message me on instagram: @StephenSkinner6
Well done to everyone else running events this weekend, hope you all had a good one!