Every year, Red Bull sends the male and female winners from each race to the location of their choosing for the following year. Last year’s male and female winners from the Cambridge, United Kingdom Wings for Life World Run, Caitriona Jennings and Steve Way, both chose Santa Clarita for their 2017 location. We are excited to have them compete in Santa Clarita on May 7th! We recently caught up with them to talk about their 2016 experience, their training, and what they’re most looking forward to for 2017.
Q: Tell me about your 2016 Wings for Life World Run experience?
Caitriona Jennings: The run in 2016 was absolutely awesome! It was a fantastic event and a wonderful experience to race through the UK countryside. As it was my first time competing in the world run, I had no idea what to expect. My friend and I arrived to the start of the event as what I can only describe as an electric atmosphere. I felt that there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie as we all set out on the course, running to raise funds for those that couldn't. I was really happy to win the UK edition and there was a great buzz on the bus, which took the top 3 finishers of the men’s race, the stewards on the bikes, and myself back to the start.
Steve Way: The 2016 race in Cambridge was HOT! The UK decided to have a mini-heatwave starting that day and because of the noon start time it was super hot by the time we started racing. I had done all my training in typical cold and wet English weather so it was a bit of a shock to the system. I was really relieved when I found out I was the "last man standing". I was so happy to see F1 driver David Coulthard who was in the catcher car and congratulated me at the end.
Q: Why did you participate in the Wings for Life World Run?
CJ: I am very fortunate to say that spinal cord injury (SCI) does not impact me or any of my friends or family. I decided to run the event as it was a novelty event - I liked the idea of the finish line catching the runners.
SW: One of my friends who had won the UK race in the first year told me all about the unique concept and it sounded like a great way to make Ultrarunning exciting, which is no small feat! SCI hasn't had any impact on my life but it's great how much awareness and support this race has managed to bring to it.
Q: Why did you choose Santa Clarita for 2017?
CJ: It was difficult to decide where to run the event in 2017, but I decided to run it in Santa Clarita because I really liked the idea of running from nighttime to daytime - and I also wanted to go to California!
SW: My wife and I have been to a number of places in the United States, but not Santa Clarita so it seemed like a great opportunity seeing as we love visiting the states.
Q: Do you have a goal set for this year’s run?
CJ: I'd like to beat the distance I ran last year, although it is difficult to factor in how the heat will impact me. I haven't set a goal yet, however I will do so closer to the event. I've learned a lot from my experience last year and I'll use this to try to improve my performance this year.
SW: No goals or time targets for the race this year. I'm actually just looking to enjoy the run and because I know it will be hotter than what I'm used to at the moment I don't want to make the same mistake I made last year.
Q: How do you feel about the change in location, climate, time, etc.?
CJ: I'm excited about the run. Although I'm a little concerned about the change in climate, I'll prepare for that by taking on lots of fluids and ensuring that I'm fully hydrated going into the race. The time difference is also likely to impact although I'm sure the adrenaline of race day will combat that!
SW: I certainly need to respect the weather, hence my cautious approach to my pace and goals! I think the start time will work in my favor, as my body clock will still be on UK time, which means it’s a midday start for me!
Q: How is training going?
CJ: Training is going well at the moment - I'm training for a marathon in April and the Wings for Life World Run is exactly 4 weeks later so I should have sufficient time to recover and prepare to race once again on May 7th. I'm not following a specific nutrition plan for the race as I generally eat healthy and try to coordinate my meals with my specific training plan.
SW: Training is going okay. It never goes quite as well as you would hope and I've had a couple of colds during the winter months, which hasn't helped. I'm currently running around 100 miles a week, which is not as much as I have done in the past but I'm trying not to peak too early.
Q: What are you most excited about for the run in Santa Clarita?
CJ: I'm excited about the event itself - I have wonderful memories of last year and I'm sure the Santa Clarita team will also organize a fantastic event this year.
SW: The atmosphere and the fellow runners. By not setting myself any particular goal for this race I really plan on enjoying myself! It's always great when racing abroad as you get to experience a whole new environment with new scenery and new people. I just can't wait to be a part of what is a very special event.
Q: Are you looking forward to anything else in addition to the run?
CJ: I got married in December so my husband and I will celebrate our honeymoon in California after the run. We plan to spend a week in Santa Monica so we are both super excited about that. Afterwards we will travel to San Francisco for one night before flying home. It will be the perfect way to unwind after the run and enjoy our honeymoon on the beach in California!
SW: We are extending our stay in California for an extra week after the race so my wife and I are looking forward to seeing all the sites of California. We will probably end up at Disneyland even though we don't have children; we are both big kids at heart.