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Written By Rob Smith - May 11 2016
When we first sat down with Red Bull to chat about Wings for Life World Run: Selfie Run Vancouver there was a noticeable caution in Britt's voice when she said, "...and it starts at the same time worldwide, which is 4:00am for Vancouver...".
Perfect. We're in.
Let's break that name down for a moment:
Wings for Life is an international not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Wings for Life World Run was an idea initially thought up on a layover at Moscow airport: What if you could get the whole world running? Everyone, worldwide, on the same day, at the same time. A race of epic proportions with just one lone runner left at the end. A world run. Two years of planning later, the Wings for Life World Run saw the light of day – but not before adding a little twist. The Catcher Cars, vehicles equipped with sensors, introduced to literally catch the runners not running towards a finish line but away from the finish line that chased them.
The Selfie Run allows those not at one of the official 34 locations around the world to participate via the Wings for Life mobile app. The mobile app counts down to the same timing as the WFL World Race starts and knows the exact speed you and the catcher cars are traveling. When you get caught by the virtual car your time stops and you are ranked amongst all other Selfie Runners worldwide.
Red Bull Canada wanted to take the Selfie Run next level in Vancouver so they enlisted the help of Flight Crew. We do love an unconventional event and this one had us at '4:00am running with thousands of others worldwide'. So, bright and early Sunday May 8 at 3:30am 60 lucky runners gathered outside Vancouver Running Co.
After a short sign-in, route instructions and last minute prep the Wings for Life World Run began it's countdown to start.
At exactly 4:00am Flight Crew, our guests and thousands of others around the world began running from the finish line.
Instead of letting the app alone tell us when we were caught by the virtual chase cars we enrolled the help of chaser bikes. The bikes played the role of the cars and left 30min after the runners, travelling at 15km/per hour as they began picking the herd off.
In total the route was 18.75km long with two turn-arounds that allowed the runners to continually loop the course until they were caught.
The Red Bull Wings Team set-up roaming water stations, keeping the runners hydrated and distracted from the oncoming chaser bikes that were slowly picking up speed as time passed.
Once you were caught it was time to head back to the shop where runners were awarded their medal, chowed down on a full pancake breakfast and took in the Red Bull TV live stream of the Wings For Life World Run happening in 32 countries.
Congratulations to our winners Ali Laidlow, Shira Daltrop, Tibor Horvath and Euan Bowman! Each of them walked away with an entry to Red Bull 400 and Puma prize pack. Euan and Tibor also won a pair of Puma Ignite's for being the last two runners, cranking out an impressive 34km before being caught by our chaser bikes. Euan even rounded out the top 10 Selfie runners worldwide and VRC Flight Crew ranked 2nd overall in the team standings - nice work!
Wings For Life World Run by the numbers:
A huge thank you to Red Bull for bringing us into this amazing initiative and for all of the support executing the mornings events, and to Puma Running for providing prizing and global support for the Wings For Life World Run.
Save the date, May 7 2017 - let's go bigger, shall we!
Had an awesome time in spite of the ungodly hour.
Thanks to everyone involved in putting on a spectacular event. Looking forward to 2017.
Whoops thanks Geoff – corrected! Apparently I operate better at 4:00am than midnight;)
A huge congratulations to the VRC Flight Crew, who ranked 2nd in the team results: https://results.wingsforlifeworldrun.com/int/en/2016/selfie-teams
Awesome job to all the Selfie Runners in Vancouver! 4am takes some dedication. One quick note – next year’s date is May 7 (not the 2nd). Registration is open now for both the Selfie Run and to join us in Niagara Falls!
Race Director, Wings for Life World Run (Canada)