Over 120,000 participants raised more than R56-million for spinal cord injury research at the sixth edition of the Wings for Life World Run.
Tshwane, South Africa – In its biggest year to date, the Wings for Life World Run saw over 120,000 runners and wheelchair participants in 323 locations cover 1,103,276km, all in the name of raising funds for spinal cord injury research.
On one day each year the Wings for Life World Run is held simultaneously in numerous locations and via the App across the world, everyone starting at the same time, whether day or night and all with the same goal – to raise money for the Wings for Life Foundation. Under its unique format, participants run as far as they can until they are passed by a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car,” which chases runners along the course or virtual in the App, gradually getting faster until each participant has been caught. This moving finish line allows participants of any ability to complete the run – the slower ones are passed early while ultra athletes go on for hours. 100% of entry fees and donations go toward helping to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Now in its sixth year, the Wings for Life World Run raised a record-breaking €3.5-million (around R56-million). The annual global event that took place in 72 countries this year encourages people to run for those who can’t and provides much-needed funding for spinal cord research with 100% of the entry fee going to the Wings for Life Foundation.
This event was particularly remarkable, with Swiss participant David Mzee, who was paralysed in a 2010 gymnastics accident, walking across the start line unassisted – the first such achievement made possible by the funds raised in this iconic event.
Mzee, who was one of three clinical-trial participants receiving Stimulation Movement Overground (STIMO) treatment took his first steps a few months ago and joined the thousands of participants in this year’s World Run to give others affected by spinal cord injury the hope that a cure is in sight.
More than 4000 abled and differently-abled South Africans took part in the local leg of the race, held at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Irene yesterday afternoon. Russian runner Olesya Nurgalieva and Swedish runner Niklas Sjöblom were crowned the female and male South African Champions.
Despite this year’s Catcher Car, driven by 5FM’s Nick Hamman, increasing in speeds faster than any previous year, Nurgalieva managed to outrun the Catcher Car for 42.8km.
“This year’s race was tough, but I’m really happy to have claimed my second Wings for Life World Run title.”
Nurgalieva, one of the famous Comrades Twins, took home the 2018 title in Turkey last year after reaching 53.61kms. Nurgalieva chose to run in South Africa this year, once again running alongside her sister Elena, who finished in second place.
Sjöblom, who has competed in two World Run races and won in Switzerland in 2018, was caught by the Catcher Car at 53.8kms. He also felt the tough South African conditions.
“This race was brutal. I ran 70.10kms in Switzerland last year, but I really felt the altitude and rolling hills on the Irene route. I knew it would be a challenging race, but wanted to run in South Africa, it’s my first time in the country, and was it great to be part of such an incredible cause.”