Flying out from Heathrow on the 4th May made me laugh…
Jon and I were heading to Florida for the 2018 Wings for Life World Run. I was lucky enough to win this race last year in Bratislava. My prize was an entry into the 2018 Wings for Life World Run in any country it was being held in. I chose Sunrise, Florida. It is a charity event supporting spinal cord research. It’s organised by Red Bull and the aim is to run as far as you can before the catcher car catches you. It starts 30mins after the runners and wheelchair users start and gets progressively faster, and when it catches you you’re out. Last year there was 24 countries it was physically held in but this year only 11. They had more app runs where they used a virtual car.
Florida was hot, hot, hot! It started at 07:00 am local time and even then it was 22oc and 86% humidity. The high dew point (23oc) fully reflected the relationship between the humidity and the temperature and it felt tropical.
I started with 8 previous winners who had also selected to race in Florida. It was always going to be tough.
Aron Anderson (in the front), (L-R) Nathalie Vasseur, Zelijka Saban, Me, Manuelito Figueroa Salva, ?, Marek Mockovciak & Elov Olsson
Sunrise is north of Miami and west of Fort Lauderdale. It is home to the Florida Panthers and we started outside their stadium (the BB&T centre).
It is also next to the Everglades National Park which is a wetland that provides important habitats for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther. Crocs are a big theme….
The Florida race started with 3000 competitors.
Pre race photo at the start with my fellow SCOTT runners from Sweden (Joacim Lantz & Elov Olsson) and Jon and then we lined up- runners and wheelchair users alike. We did one lap and then headed out onto a Expressway for miles and miles….
I started at the pace I raced at last year. I was no fitter so couldn’t go quicker and I also knew I didn’t want to go off too fast. I raced behind Nathalie, the ultimate winner for the first half but she maintained a far closer pace than I did. It hit me pretty quickly actually. I felt a bit wobbly and queasy and at times a little shivery. I slowed, I drunk at every stations and I consumed my 32Gi gels. I was inspired to push on- A chap at the start in a wheelchair helping a lady in a walker by physically moving one leg in front of the other for her told me to ‘run for him’. I did! I got caught at just under 43km in 3hrs 15mins of running.
People always ask what I think during a long race. It varies depending on what stage I’m at in the race but today the usual demons reared their head during the race- a chimp on one shoulder and me on the other having those discussions about trying to moving a bit quicker:
(Me) Come on then lets pick the pace up….(Chimp) Your training hasn’t been good enough due to niggles and more recently getting run down….(Chimp) It’s hot….(Me) That’s no excuse you know you’re better than this….(Legs) We’re feeling a bit depleted down here and why are you feeling so wobbly….(Me) COME ON IT WON’T BE FOREVER WE’VE GOT THIS! Etc etc! I was pleased to finish, I was pleased to be able to run (always a privilege), yes, I am one of those people that are never entirely happy with their performance but I knew my training had not been ideal so I was pleased with the result in the end.
I’m now in Barbados swopping running clothes for a dress as there’s a family wedding to celebrate.
Massive congrats to Nathalie for the win in Florida. Vera Nunes (female runner) and Aron Anderson (male wheelchair user) for the world-wide wins.