Watching Lolo Jones run the 100 meter hurdles is to witness human flight. So it might come as a surprise to see her take on the Wings for Life World Run, which is all about distance running to raise money for spinal cord injury research.
THE RED BULLETIN: You’ve run Wings for Life before, right?
LOLO JONES: Yes, I ran in 2014, and it was a great experience. It’s unique from other races, like a 5K or 10K. Instead of crossing the finish line and looking to see what your time was, you’re trying to stay ahead of a catcher car, and that just brings a different level of excitement to the race. It’s like what I experience as a sprinter: The thrill of the chase. Pushing yourself, seeing how far you can go before somebody catches and passes you. It’s much more elevated when you’re running like that. And the fact that you’re doing it to support this one cause, it’s pretty powerful.
Do you have a personal connection that motivates you to participate?
Right before the 2012 Olympics, I had surgery to repair a tethered spinal cord injury. Had they not been able to fix it, my track career would have been over. But for a lot of people there aren’t medical advances in their injury yet. That’s why his race is so important. It’s raising funds to find a cure, to help people regain full mobility, to have their freedom back.
The race’s tagline is “Run for those who can’t.” Are you running for someone?
I’m friends with a lot of athletes who compete in the Paralympics and I’m highly motivated by them. People like [10-time Paralympic medalist] Tatyana McFadden. It would just be amazing to have her life. She’s explained some of the things she’s gone through. Things I take for granted.
Do you see a day when we’ll have a cure?
Advances happen every year. Something groundbreaking will happen, and with the increase in funds, they’ll focus even more on that.
You’re a sprinter. Do you even have a slow speed?
I started off my career as a long-distance runner, so I know that world, and I’ll return to it when I’m finished sprinting. Even when you’re training as a sprinter, there’s gonna be a lot of full workouts of at least two miles.
The world championships are in Beijing and the Pan Am Games are in Canada this year, so I’m training hard for both of those.
Advice for participants?
Don’t worry too much about the catcher car! A lot of people last year were like, “When’s the catcher car gonna come get me?”
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