The world’s most spectacular running race ever will take place in exactly 100 days, on May 4th 2014, when thousands of runners will set off on a unique race staged simultaneously on up to 37 different courses in 35 different countries on 6 continents. The Wings for Life World Run aims to raise funds for spinal cord research and will start precisely at 10am UTC at the exact same time in locations across the globe – meaning that runners in some countries will be running from dawn to dusk while others will be racing from dusk to dawn.
Open to participants of all levels, shapes, sizes, abilities and ages, the outstanding feature of the first such global sporting event is that the moving finish line will be chasing the racers from behind instead of the racers running towards a set finish line. Exactly 30 minutes after the runners set off at some of the most spectacular locations around the world, official Catcher Cars will set off behind the packs in pursuit of the runners. When a Catcher Car passes a runner, their race is over. The last man and last woman running will be declared the winners.
“What is exciting about the Wings for Life World Run is that it actually has a starting line, but there is no finish line, and I think that concept is magic,” said Olympic medalist Colin Jackson of Great Britain, who is the Wings for Life World Run sports director. “A car will be chasing you down, half an hour after you started. It’s never been done before. You could be in New Zealand, you could be in South Africa, you could be in Great Britain. The races all start at the same time.”
The world’s first and only simultaneous global endurance event includes a number of breath taking routes, some passing through deserts while others traverse some of the world’s most attractive country sides and others follow scenic coastlines. Jackson said some of his favourite race tracks include the stretch between Ft. Lauderdale, Florida into the Everglades, the one at Silverstone in Britain, Kerry in Ireland, as well as the route in Chile. “There are so many wonderful tracks,” he said. “A mass of runners at beautiful locations – all trying to out-run a car. It’s going to be sensational.”
The starting time will present a special challenge to runners in South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, who will be starting late in the day and running through the night, as well as those on the west coast of the United States, who will be starting in the middle of the night and running for hours before sunrise. Some runners, such as those in Australia and New Zealand, will likely be running the whole time at night.
With exactly 100 days left before the race, the enthusiasm is building. There is still time to sign up for the race at www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com. The deadline for applications is April 20. Thousands will participate in the event that is bound to captivate the imagination of millions more around the world. The proceeds from the Wings for Life World Run will go entirely to cutting-edge research projects aimed at healing the injured spinal cord. Therefore, the race will be held under the slogan: running for those who can’t.
More than 216 top athletes from a wide range of sports and countries have already signed up to support and participate in the race. Giorgio Calcaterra, Italian ultra marathon runner and three-time world champion of the 100 km is one of the Wings of Life World Run ambassadors and supports this race, as is Mick Fanning, Australian pro surfer and triple world champion. Among the world’s top athletes who will take part in the race are surf icon Robby Naish, ex-Formula One racer David Coulthard, motorsport racing legend Eddie Jordan, former Alpine-skiing ace Luc Alphand and Iron Man Marc Herremans.
The Wings for Life World Run is more than about determining winners; it is, above all, about competing while raising funds for spinal cord research and awareness for the cause itself. Over three million people around the world are living with a spinal cord injury. Every year, at least 130,000 more sustain a traumatic spinal cord injury – the main cause being traffic accidents. Advancement in spinal cord research is largely based on private initiatives. As a non-profit foundation, Wings for Life is dependent on donations. The foundation guarantees that 100 per cent of all donations are used for research purposes only, as all administrative costs are kindly covered.
The Wings for Life World Run has several international partners, including Cisco and Tiani, as well as Runtastic and EMS. Cisco and Tiani, focused on promoting the adoption of open standards based solutions for electronic health records, are two world leaders in the IT and healthcare industries. Runtastic, with a fundamental goal of making the world a healthier place, has grown quickly to become a leader in the global health and fitness industry with more than 60 million downloads of its award-winning mobile app and more than 25 million registered users on Runtastic.com. EMS, the European Merchant Services, is a world leader in the card-payment industry with a reliable infrastructure and the best technology. All the international partners are thrilled to be part of the race and are fully committed to helping it succeed.
Pictures show how 800 runners form the shape of the logo, the date and the countdown number of the Wings for Life World Run at a parking lot in Florianopolis, Brazil. Pictures by Joerg Mitter and Cacarlos Garrastazu