8 cool places you could go to run Wings for Life

Here are the hardest, coolest, craziest, and easiest places to do the Wings for Life World Run.
By Evan David

The Wings for Life World Run – one of the world’s most unique footraces – is fast approaching, with runners all over the world toeing their local start line at the same time on May 3. We asked trail runner Ryan Sandes to help us round up some of the hardest, easiest, and plain and simple coolest places to run Wings for Life. Here’s what we came up with – get your registrations in, now!

The race to battle... heat

Wings for Life World Run
Dubai, in its sky-scraping glory © Bloomberg / Getty Images

 Hard – it's gonna be hot!
When: 3pm

“Heat is going to slow you down – and in the middle of the afternoon, with predicted temperatures around 30º, Dubai could be one hard race,” says Sandes. Making it even harder? It’s got a net elevation gain for those going the distance – meaning you’ll be hitting the hills just when your thermometer is rising.

The race to battle... wind

Go, Bob Seger, go
Running against the wind © Camilo Rozo for Wings for Life World Run

Lima, Peru
Difficulty: Depends on the wind.
When: 8am

“Wind behind you is good – wind in front of you is bad,” explains Ryan. With much of the course in Lima running directly by the ocean, wind could very well play a factor. Other than that, cool temps and early start time could make for a pleasant race – and the views should be amazing.

The race to battle... rain

Wings for Life goes on, rain or shine © Mark Dadswell for Wings for Life World Run

Cape Town, South Africa
Difficulty: Depends on the weather.
When: 1pm

Cape Town is Ryan’s home spot. Since he’s prepping for a big race the week after Wings for Life, he’ll be using May 3 as a fun training run – bringing him back down to a more human pace. “Last year, rain came down – hard. Running wet makes for a rough race!” But the next day was sunny – so it’ll be luck of the draw.

The race to battle... the party

Wings for Life World Run
Wings for Life happens in the dark in Australia © Mark Watson for Wings for Life World Run

Melbourne, Australia
Difficulty: Will you party before or after the run?
When: 9pm 

“That’s going to be a fun one,” says Ryan. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere in Melbourne – especially for a night run. That’s one I would sign up for, for sure!” Of course, while competitors in Melbourne will be racing directly to the festivities, those in California will be running towards breakfast.

The race to battle... the night

Wings for Life World Run
The call in Cali? Dawn patrol © Carlo Cruz for Wings for Life World Run

Los Angeles, California
: Hard – unless you're a morning person.
When: 4 AM

Racers in California will start at the same time as everyone else – but let’s be honest, they’ll have it harder than the rest. A 4am start is weird timing for night owls and early risers – meaning racers will have to decide whether to stay awake beforehand or get up early from the night before. Our predictions? No records set in LA – unless it’s for number of eggs eaten at breakfast after the race.

The race to battle... the route

Wings for Life World Run
Don’t let this flat bit fool you... © Maurin Bisig for Wings for Life World Run

Olten, Switzerland
Difficulty: Tough, no matter what – plenty of turns and hills.
When: 1pm

Want a challenge? Head to Olten, Switzerland, where the course is curved – and hilly. “A sharp climb at 10km will weed out the competition,” says Ryan. “Then it’s a continual grind uphill as the course winds through constant curves – not an easy race!”

The race to battle... speed

Wings for Life World Run
Can you outrun this guy? Probably not © Raed Krishan / Red Bull Content Pool

Bucharest, Romania
Difficulty: How fast do you want to go?
When: 2pm

“Bucharest is flat, slightly downhill and straight – if you want to go fast, this could be the place to do it,” says Ryan. Of course, you’ll be racing Red Bull X-Alps athlete Toma de Coconea – known for his dedication and stamina. You’ll have outrun him – and the car.

The race to battle... yourself


Anywhere you want
Difficulty: Do you own a smartphone?
When: Location-dependent

There’s no Wings for Life race happening near you? Don’t worry – you can run it solo. How? Download the app, and at 1pm CET, May 3, start running, wherever you want – and keep going until the virtual catcher car notifies you that your race is over. The cheering crowds will be in your own head, and your race will still support spinal cord research – and you’ll know know you’ve been running for those who can’t.

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