Unique race coming to Vancouver Waterfront

Video courtesy Why Racing Events

The App Race is part of a global event to raise money for spinal cord research

VANCOUVER — Runners, get set to wake up really early on Sun., May 6. Like, 4 a.m. early. That’s when the Wings for Life race gets underway, starting from Warehouse 23 on the Vancouver waterfront.

Why so early? Well the race is actually a global event, and that just happens to be the starting time here in Vancouver.

“We got the short stick on that one,” jokes Ryan Lockard, the head trainer with Specialty Athletic Training in Portland. They’re the corporate honoree here for this race. While it’s in its fifth year globally, this is the first year Wings for Life will have an organized event on the west coast.

Wings for Life, put on by Why Racing Events, is what’s known as an App Race. You download their mobile app, and then put your times up against people from around the world. And while the course has a start and an end point, there’s no finish line. Instead a virtual “catcher car” leaves 30 minutes after the start time, going 15 Kilometers an hour and slowly speeding up until the last running is “caught.”

“Your time or distance is tracked and compared not just to everyone in the Portland/Vancouver area,” says Lockard, “but to everyone else in the world. So it kind of gives you a good standing that way too.”

Runners at the starting line of another Why Racing Events are shown here at a race earlier this year. Photo courtesy Why Racing Events
Runners at the starting line of another Why Racing Events are shown here at a race earlier this year. Photo courtesy Why Racing Events

The organizers initially hoped to have the race in Portland, but new policies by the police department there due to staffing issues made that impossible.

“They were all out of permits for races in Portland for the year,” Lockard says, “but they were able to swing something in Vancouver.”

Ultimately, he says, that was probably for the best, “especially with the nighttime, the waterfront’s not always the safest place in Portland, so a 4 a.m. run is definitely better in Vancouver.”

If getting up before the sun to run along the Vancouver riverfront seems a little crazy, at least know it’s for a good cause. One hundred percent of the proceeds from entry fees go to help with research for people suffering spinal injuries. It’s why this race is open to anyone, from runners to walkers and people in wheelchairs.

Specialty Athletic Training actually works with athletes who have special needs, so Lockard jumped at the chance to be the corporate honoree.

“I was working with a young boy who had autism, and saw the need for fitness,” he says. “I saw how the expectations for him were set lower than his peers, and for no reason.”

While they work primarily with people who have neurological disabilities, rather than spinal cord injuries, Lockard felt they were in a unique position to help with the cause. “We’re kind of getting the word out within the Special Needs community.”

To find out more information about the Wings for Life race, and how to sign up, visit Why Racing Events’ website here.

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