Wings For Life World Run, Niagara Falls, Canada – Lots of Play and a Run!

I’m officially back from Canada, specifically the Niagara Falls area, where I raced in the Wings for Life World Run with tens of thousands of runners ALL AROUND THE WORLD raising a ton of money to go towards spinal cord injury (SCI) research.  In addition to having many friends with SCIs I am also an SCI Case Manager at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.  The cause definitely attracted me from a personal perspective.  The other cool thing was the race format.  A global run, with runners taking off from 35 locations around the world all at the same time!  You run as far as you can until a catcher car, which has set off at the same time (30 minutes after the race start) at every location.  At the end, the global winners are the man and woman who runs the longest!  I was able to get 7.2 miles (11.73 km) and ranked 13299th globally and 168th country (assuming Canada, where I ran?) for females.  It was really pretty awesome to be a part of something happening all over the world.  At the end of the race global footage was being broadcast and people in Australia and Japan were in reflective vests and headlamps, running in the middle of the night!  My friend Jenn joined me for this weekend adventure, as well. Let’s get to some of the race day highlights!

On Saturday we went to pick up our bibs

Greeted by a beautiful sunrise on race day near the start line
Rocking a little Boston and a little Canada.
You all should know by now, I enjoy my
race day fun!

Getting Ready to Run!
Race start

I’ll be honest, tons of cheers from runners and
spectators for this headband! I know how to
get people to interact with me! 🙂
Runners start lining up. I think we were the smallest
world site, with about 800 runners
Jenn getting a taste of what it means to run a race with me.
Lots of ussies!! 🙂
And we’re off!
I took lots of pics as we ran by the falls, and here are a couple that came out pretty good!

Jenn and I didn’t run together, but we did pass on the turn around and took a moment for the photo op!

Couldn’t beat the views! (And a nice morning mist!)

So it’s still TBD if there are pictures of me finishing (aka being caught) by the Catcher Car.  But in case there weren’t going to be, I had to try and photo document that moment. Enjoy this series of unattractive photos as the Catcher Car, and my finish line, approaches!

And there it goes!  Off to catch those up ahead! 

We hopped a bus back to the start to get our medals

For the record, I announced that I keep a running blog and would like a photo so everyone “get excited!” Thinking folks would actually, in fact, get quite excited!
And this is what I got… a total lack of interest haha
In any case, I got back and enjoyed the finish with my medal!

Jenn was on a bus or 2 behind me but we met up so we could make sure to get our own photo shoot!

So all in all, it was a wonderful race day and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to participate!
I was a little dismayed to learn the morning of the race that there was some controversy around the race.  While all were welcome, apparently if you use a wheelchair racing chairs were not allowed. You needed to use a more standard wheelchair and also be accompanied by someone (though I’m not sure about the latter part, there were a few individuals in chairs at our race who I didn’t see accompanied).  I guess the reason was that racing chairs are too fast and it becomes a safety issue to get caught.  I understand the uproar but I also appreciate the issue (as long as that is the case).  I’m hopeful that moving forward they can find some resolution.  There are many stellar and world renowned athletes who do in fact have an SCI and compete in racing chairs and I imagine would want to participate in this run, given the cause. The only way I can possibly relate to this is if I was told I can participate in a race but I can’t wear my running sneakers.  With that perspective I completely get the frustration some athletes who use wheelchairs have expressed.  There’s a year until the next Wings for Life World Run event and I feel like there are a number of ways they can reconsider this rule and come up with a way for all athletes to be able to participate with their gear, allowing them to put forth their optimal performance.  Fingers crossed!
My mini vacation was 4 days, Friday to Monday.  Since this is a blog that I try to keep focused on running, I prioritized the details and pics from my race experience.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the rest of the weekend, because isn’t life also about a little fun, eh? (my one nod to a few days in Canada 😉 )
On Friday, my first view of the falls (Horseshoe Falls)


 Friday afternoon I drove up the Niagara River a ways and took a hike down in gorge.  Talk about a butt workout! This pic of the stairs doesn’t even do the hike justice!
The beautiful Niagara Falls lit up at night!

A little bit of fun at Clifton Hill at night. Because adults definitely ride a ferris wheel and do a Mystery Maze at 12:30 a.m. on a Friday.

 Honestly could not get enough of the views!

A view from the back of Horseshoe Falls

From the back of Horseshoe Falls

Definitely had to do the Journey Under the Falls 
(Horseshoe Falls)

 We found time to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Across the way is Fort Niagara, on the US side.

We made sure to stop for an Ice Wine Tasting.

Kirby’s travel tip: It’s important to take advantage of any and all tourist picture opportunities.
Going into “the Mist” was also a must do. We took Hornblower Niagara Cruises from the Canadian side.  Let me just say, the saying “Into the Mist” is a total misnomer.  I completely suggest you do this, but be prepared to be amid a torrential and freezing monsoon, not so much a “mist” as one might assume 🙂

Horseshoe Falls at night with a full moon

We headed back to Buffalo, where we were flying back to Boston, and decided that we would stop to see what the American side of the falls is all about. I feel bad dissing my own country, but wow it didn’t even compare in regards to what there was to do.  That said, we lucked out with a few cool pics, complete with rainbows, and I am happy to have experienced both perspectives of Niagara Falls.

Yes, that is leftover ice/snow from this past winter!!

 On our final leg of our mini run-cation journey, I was told by many to have buffalo wings when in Buffalo.  So we made time to do just that for lunch before our flight. And not only did we have buffalo wings, we had “The Original” buffalo wings at a restaurant called The Anchor.

It was a wonderful few days with a wonderful co-traveler and friend with a wonderful run added to the mix.  Do you think it sounds wonderful?  Back to the grind of reality tomorrow.  But it’s finally spring in my beautiful Boston and the outdoor runs will be plentiful with I’m sure lots more fun posting to come!

Until next time, happy running!

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