Why we run: Six unique Canadian perspectives

From meditation to recovery, and even fuelling your thirst for adventure, here are four perspectives from our athletes and ambassadors.

Whether the wind is at your back propelling you forward or a force you’re working against, movement is always a gift. This sentiment is shared amongst four Canadian athletes in the midst of training for next the Wings For Life World Run, happening on May 5, 2024.

With 100% of entry fees going to the Wings for Life World Run —a non-profit foundation devoted to finding a cure for spinal cord injury—the race champions a global community of runners to get moving so that others might have the chance to.

We run to feel free

“Running is freedom. Freedom to move, breathe, go where you like, when you like, in your own style, at your own pace,” says one of the athletes, ice climber Will Gadd. “I run WFL … to celebrate freedom, and hopefully help others find more through the research the WFL supports.”

Mathea Olin, a Canadian surfer, speaks to the sport’s serenity: “For me, running is a form of meditation. Running allows me to clear my head and only focus on my breathing.”

We run for those who can't

Former professional mountain biker, Andrew Cho, has a deeper connection to the race itself. Having experienced the bursting of a blood vessel in his spinal canal in 2017 which rendered him paralyzed from the neck down, Cho now runs for those whose shoes he was once in.

“During my recovery process, I learnt that there’s always someone worse off than you; someone who would give anything to be in your shoes,” he says.

"It’s our responsibility to run for those who can’t." - Andrew Cho

Want to join the Wings For Life World Run? Here’s how:

  1. Download the free Wings for Life World Run App from the App Store
  2. Register before May 5th, 2024
  3. Get ready to run!

All funds raised go directly to research efforts dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury. Donate and register at: WingsForLifeWorldRun.com.

The craziest part? The start signal is heard all around the world at the exact same time, so you will truly be running alongside a global community.

We run to explore

Canadian explorer Mario Rigby expresses his motivations for what he calls “moving your body to your fullest potential and purest form” in episode 3 of the Why I Run podcast—available on Spotify, Amazon, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

“We were exploring the land,” he says when recalling running with his brother around the desert landscapes of their childhood home in Turks and Caicos. “We always looked for something new. And I think that's what fuelled my thirst for adventure.”

Of all the reasons to run, Gadd sums up what is indisputably at their core: “I have never once regretted going out and moving.”

We run for hope

In 2016, legendary French-Canadian wakeboarder Ben Leclair suffered a serious spinal cord injury while filming an edit in Orlando, Florida. The result was a double fracture to his neck, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

“The worst thing that can happen to a person is to lose their autonomy… That is exactly what happens when you become paralyzed. A spinal cord injury is a nightmare that I would not wish on anyone,” explained Leclair.

Ben Leclair wakeboarding prior to his injury in 2016

“That’s why I want to do everything I can to find ways to cure everyone who suffers from it.” - Ben Leclair

While most doctors believe his injury is irreparable, and that motor recovery is impossible, emerging research suggests promising signs for regenerative spinal cord treatment — a revolutionary advancement that highly depends on funding.

As a charity foundation, Wings for Life is a major contributor Leclair’s cause, and directs all entry fees and donations from the Wings for Life World Run towards spinal cord research.

“When you put together a lot of resources for the same purpose, you get incredible results. That's what we're trying to do with the Wings for Life, we're all coming together to push this cause that could give back the freedom to move to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”

We run to stay fit

No matter your motive or inspiration to get out and run, the simple act of moving is proven to help improve your heart health and immune system, build muscle, and improve flexibility. For these reasons alone, running has become a key element of many elite athlete’s off-season training regiments.

Take it from professional snowboarder Sebastien Toutant himself: "I love running to stay fit, enjoy the moment and challenge myself to beat my fastest time.”

Don't forget to sign up for the Wings for Life World Run before May 5, 2024!