Some say it doesn’t exist, others live for it. What does the runner’s high feel like? Who better to ask than the Wings for Life World Run location winners of 2015, who, for May 8, will be flown to the location of their choice to compete, once again, in the global race.
Natalie Vasseur won the Florida race last year after 52.18km and will compete in Sunrise again this year. For Nathalie, life is a runner’s high:
“Running is a passion. I’m a nurse, and I run in my free time. I am not professional, I run because I love it.”
Vasseur finds “Running is a way to empty my mind, but also time when I can talk to myself and think about what is important in my life. In every competition, I stay focused on my goals, though.
One thing that is important in Vasseur’s life? U2! “I love U2 and especially Bono, if I had to choose one person alive or dead to run with, it would be him.”
Her opponent, 2015 winner in Germany Laura Biebach, was caught just metres before her at 51.78km, Biebach will also run in Florida and definitely believes in the runner’s high:
“Yes, there is a runner’s high! It's like the happiest place on earth”
... which also describes her perfect run:
“My perfect run is when I reach my pace and I can completely free my head and just run and breathe. These moments are priceless! If I run a good time, that’s the cherry on top.:
She also says that of everyone – living or dead – she would most like to go on “A long run with all my friends around me - that would be great!”
Female Global Champion Yuuko Watanbe, who has been a runner for 16 years and set a new Wings for Life World Run female record of 56.33km in 2015, confirmed there is a runner’s high for her:
“Yes, it does exist. Once I overcome the tough part, I become strangely positive.”
For Chilean runner, Cesar Díaz, the runner’s high is about inspiration:
“I think every runner feels inspired to run, and for that reason we like to run. It’s what makes us move forward and run with more desire. Every workout, every race, you go to with that inspiration to achieve a certain objective and want to overcome.”
Florian Neuschwander, captain of the largest team taking on 2016’s Team Run challenge, remembers the moment the mythical runner’s high paid him a visit:
“I felt it in my 100km World Champs last year, where I came ninth. I’d had a bad day, but I kept on running. Till 70km, I had stomach problems but after 80km I felt better. The last 10km, I felt really really good again -- like I was flying -- and I did the fastest last 10k of all the runners, in 37:29 minutes, from 90km to the finish.”
And for two-time winner in Italy, Giorgio Calcaterra, who started running March 14, 1982, at the age of 10, the runner’s high is like an old friend:
“Yes! It happens to me sometimes. When I feel very good and in a perfect shape, I feel a kind of euphoria.”
Once again, Calcaterra will run in Italy -- “because I’m Italian, of course” – but for the first time, the race will be in Milan. And he’s hoping for what he describes as his perfect run:
“The perfect run is the one that allows me to listen to my body, so I can give it the boost it needs without working too much, especially when I’m pleased with the race time I’m doing. The perfect race is when you can run the race not without struggling but in struggling in the right way.”
But Irina Antropova, who will run again in Russia, acknowledges the idea of the runner’s high, but takes a wholly pragmatic approach to it:
“The highest point of satisfaction - I don't have it! When I achieve one goal, I set the next one immediately.”
That pragmatism applies to ‘the wall’, too.
“Depends on the wall. Maybe I'll run around it”
... says the Russian who was caught by the Catcher Car after 51.33km in 2015.
When you’re the last person to be caught by the Catcher Car in each of the Wings for Life World Run locations, you win entry and travel to any Wings for Life World Runs the next year. Attention turns you, both in the country you win in and the country you chose to run in the following year.
Expectation is high. Any of the frontrunners could easily be the Global Champion – the king or queen of the Wings for Life World Run. Who will the runner’s high visit in 2016 – will it be them or will it be you?
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Catcher Car driver, Adolfo Aguilar in Lima, Peru
Kenny Belaey, Ieper, Belgium
Matej Markovič Slovenia
Natalie Hilton, participant 2015
Matjaz Klemencic, Slovenia