Wings for Life Run

Runners pass by Niagara Falls on the picturesque route. Photo: Provided.

Niagara Falls, Ont. is the lone Canadian city hosting the Wings for Life World Run on May 8 as runners from around the world race each other in this unique event that raises money for spinal cord research.

Canadian Blaine Penny just announced that he will be again competing in the Wings for Life World Run, this time in the Netherlands, in honour of his son Evan, who suffers from mitochondrial disease.

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How the event works

With no set finish line, runners can enter the race with their own distance goals in mind, whether it be 5K or 50K – it’s all about personal performance. “Catcher cars,” synced by GPS at each location around the world, begin pursuit 30 minutes after runners start off the line. Travelling at 15 km/h and increasing speed in predetermined increments, the result means that only one male and one female runner will be left running somewhere in the world.

RELATED: 65K wins Wings for Life World Run Niagara.

A video description of the event provides further information below:

Because each location has chase cars synced with GPS, the race format allows runners from around the world to compete against each other, virtually.

Wings for Life World Run

Canadian Blaine Penny with the chase car in the background. He won the Niagara Falls edition last year. Photo: Provided

Back-to-back Canadian winners

An added bonus in winning the event is being awarded the opportunity to compete at any of the 35 locations the following year. Penny, a Calgary resident and the winner of the Niagara Falls race last year, recently announced that he will be running in Breda, Netherlands.

“I chose the Netherlands for a couple of reasons,” says Penny. “One, we have never been there and since our daughter is travelling with us, we thought this was the perfect opportunity. Secondly, because our son Evan is having major spine surgery in January, we decided to make this a short trip and a destination with a direct flight was important to us.”

RELATED: Wings for Life World Run registration open.

Blaine’s son Evan suffers from mitochondrial disease, a debilitating condition that has rendered him quadriplegic with a limited quality of life. It is his son who Blaine routinely credits for enabling him to dig deep during his runs, and who carried him to his remarkable 65-kilometre finish in 2015.

“When I run, I run for Evan. Every stride I think of him and wish he could experience the beautiful movement and joy of running,” says Penny.

Niagara Falls has emerged as a top choice among other international winners, including those from Poland, Portugal and Turkey.

Calum Neff, the winner of the Santa Clarita, Calif. edition in 2014, will be running at the Niagara Falls location on May 8. He competed in Turkey in 2015.

RELATED: Canadian father of two runs, works full-time, and still sets records.

Neff is rounding into good form as earlier this month, he set a world record for the half-marathon with a stroller running 1:11:27 with his daughter Holland.

Information on the event, including specifics regarding the Niagara Falls event, can be found here.

With excerpts from a Red Bull press release


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