The Wings for Life World Run is a truly global event with 101,280 participants taking to international starting lines during the 2015 event, and winning it can be a runner’s ticket to see the world.
For Calgary’s Blaine Penny, who won the Canadian event in Niagara Falls last year with a remarkable distance of 65km, the win now translates into a trip to the Netherlands to participate in the 2016 Wings for Life World Run. From a choice of 35 locations around the world, Penny selected the run in Breda less so for strategic running purposes, and more so for his family. Asked what inspired him to choose the location, it came down to the biggest motivators in his life – his kids.
“I chose the Netherlands for a couple of reasons. 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,” says Penny.
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 65km finish in 2015.
But Penny is still determined to perform at his best, with hopes of another win this year. After doing some initial research into the possible race locations to choose from, Breda appeared to offer some favourable conditions where Penny feels he might be able to achieve his new goal of 70km. Overall, the course is one of the flattest in the word and Breda’s climate shares much in common with Penny’s own stomping grounds here in Canada, though as he points out, “the weather is always the biggest wild card”.