Great Britain ultra-trail running international Kyle Greig was thrilled to take part in one of the world’s biggest and most innovative virtual races.
The Metro Aberdeen man was one of 77,000 runners from 104 countries who tackled the Wings for Life run which raised £2.4 million for research into spinal cord injuries.
The run, first held in 2014, is normally staged at various venues across the world, with athletes all starting at the same time.
But the Covid-19 pandemic meant this format wasn’t possible this year and so it was held as a virtual race.
Competitors used an app which allowed each of them to run their own course simultaneously.
The unique feature of the race is that it isn’t based on time, but on distance achieved before each runner is caught by a virtual pursuit car.
So everyone started at the same time, no matter where they were in the world.
Thirty minutes later the “catcher car” set off at a speed of 14 kilometres per hour.
The car speeded up by 1kph every 30mins over the following two hours, then by 4kph every 30mins after that.
The app identifies when each runner has been caught and the last runner standing is the winner.
The best distance of 69.92K was achieved by England’s Michael Taylor while Russia’s Nina Zaruna was top woman with 54.23K.
Greig adopted a fairly relaxed approach to the event, covering 35.35K before being caught by the car.
But he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
He said: “I had heard about the Wings for Life event a few years ago when it was a proper race and thought that it seemed a cool concept.
“Obviously it couldn’t go ahead in its usual format this year, but a few days beforehand I saw it was taking place as a virtual event so I signed up and planned a route from my home in Alford.
“The app they use is amazing. You wear ear pods and they tell you when the car has started, what pace you are running and eventually you are told when the car has caught you.
“But the GPS on the phone I was using didn’t tie up with what my watch was telling me.
“My watch said I’d got to 10 miles in 58mins whereas the app told me it had taken me 63 or 64mins. So there was a bit of inaccuracy.
“But it didn’t matter. I got a good solid training run out of it and it was fun being part of an event which raised so much for the charity.”
Greig is furloughed from his post as corporate wellness manager at Aberdeen Sports Village but is looking on the positive side of the situation.
He said: “My wife Debbie has just started her job again after maternity leave but she’s working from home so we are here together with our 10-month-old son Logan.
“Although the coronavirus situation is terrible, the plus side for us is having that extra time with the whole family together and I’m just getting used to my role as full-time dad.
“Debbie is also keeping her training ticking over and last weekend she did her own version of a half ironman triathlon.
“She couldn’t swim but simulated that by attaching resistance bands to the banister in the house and pulling on that with a front crawl motion for about 30mins.
“Then she got on the bike before doing 13 miles running on our treadmill.
“So, it was a tough work-out.
“In terms of training we are both just trying to keep a good base and not overdo anything.
“It’s a chance to work on aspects you don’t usually have time to do, so I’ve been doing a bit more strength and conditioning for example.
“We can get back to doing more specific sessions once it becomes clearer when races might start happening again.”