As a pro snowboarder competing at the highest level, Louie Vito is no stranger to pushing himself physically and mentally in order to get the most out of himself. A longtime supporter of the Wings for Life Foundation, Vito showed up at the inaugural World Run in 2014 and, despite never having done any distance training, logged over 13 miles before the Catcher Car passed him. He returned in 2015 and made it well over 17 miles, and he’s shooting for more in 2016.
The Ohio native will be leading a Selfie Run in Columbus on May 8 at the Columbus Idea Foundry. You can join him there in person or do it virtually from anywhere in the world by downloading the Selfie Run app.
Did your distance at the 2014 Wings for Life World Run surprise you?
Louie Vito: My distance surprises me every year I do the World Run because I don’t do any distance [in my training]. I do progressive intervals so everything I do is short and intense. I think before the first [World Run], the furthest I had ever run was maybe five or six miles on a recovery jog over the span of an hour. I really didn’t know what to expect. The only thing I did before the first race was make a vow that I wasn’t going to walk.
Did you change your approach at all for the 2015 event?
I had a lot of anxiety going into the 2015 event actually, because I hadn’t run distance since the 2014 event. But I wanted to beat my distance. I ran 13.22 miles in 2014 so I figured 13 and a half, 14 miles — that’s my goal. So in 2015, I was trying to pace myself but it was hard to do so I decided to just go with the flow of my body. I was shocked because I cut 15 minutes off my half-marathon time and I ended up going 17.77 miles.
Do you think the format or the environment at World Run has an impact on the distances people are running?
I think it’s everything, to be honest. It’s such a fun environment — everyone’s hyped up, you see everybody stretching, people are dancing, there’s music playing and crazy lights, so you’re already excited. I’m also excited because I’m a big supporter of the Wings for Life Foundation so that gets me going. I just think, “Look, I’m going to run until this Catcher Car comes.” The slogan is Run For Those Who Can’t, and I’m thankful and blessed that I can run, so I’m going to run until that thing catches up to me.
What’s your goal for this year?
I’m not sure, I’ve been thinking about that, actually. I’d like to beat my record so I’d like to go 18. We’ll see how my body is feeling.
Are you excited to be doing the Selfie Run?
I think the Selfie Run is a great thing, because with only two stops in the US it’s a great way to get people involved and joining the fun no matter where they are. You can follow where you are in the rest of the pack in Sunrise and Santa Clarita, or Canada, or any of the 34 locations. I think it’s a cool idea. I love that when the Catcher Car passes you, you can see how you did at your stop, in your country and in the world, instantly.
It is a race, but it’s spreading the word of the Wings for Life Foundation and getting more people involved. It’s awesome that 100% of the proceeds go right to research. There’s no middleman, no one getting a cut, it’s just 100% for charity. I think it’s just cool that if you want to walk, you can walk. If you want to jog, you can jog. If you want to run, you can run. It doesn’t matter, it’s just about showing up and being part of the positivity and the fun. It’s going to be a good vibe no matter what.