The Wings for Life World Run has been the largest synchronised global run for charity since 2014 with the ninth edition on Sunday, May 8 set to raise even more crucial money to help find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation funding world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe.
It recently achieved another medical breakthrough with new progress on a method called STIMO that helps spinal cord injury sufferers to walk again as Wings for Life World Run regular David Mzee became the first to embark on a trial with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland.
Participants have 16 electrode devices implanted between the vertebrae and the spinal cord membrane, which receive currents from a pacemaker implanted under the skin of the abdomen via a touchscreen tablet to activate the participants’ leg and trunk muscles - enabling movement.
The Wings for Life World Run was first launched in 2014 with professional athletes, fun runners and total beginners up against the Catcher Car to help raise funds in worldwide locations with 100% of all entry fees and donations going directly to help find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Fun is a huge element of the day as hardcore runners, wheelchair rollers and occasional joggers all mix happily together as they aim for their various race targets in mixed weather - some even in fancy dress.
Last year on Sunday, May 9, 184,236 runners and wheelchair users from 195 nations took part with 4.1 million euros raised as Sweden’s Aron Anderson (66.8km) took his third win after victories in 2017 and 2018 as did Nina Zarina (60.2km) following her glory in 2019 and 2020.
Flagship Runs - where athletes run a predetermined route with results determined by timing companies - can be found in places like Munich and Vienna, while App Runs over urban, rural, mountain and beach terrains will be hosted in iconic cities such as London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona with the App transmitting athlete data back to Global Race Control.
2022 participants will start at 11.00 UTC (13.00 CET) with the Catcher Car starting 30 minutes later, increasing its speed incrementally at half-hour intervals up to a speed of 34 km/h (21.1 mph) as fun runners look to get past the 5km mark and professionals look to eclipse the 60km mark.
There is no finish line, athletes keep going until the Catcher Car reaches them with celebrities such as double Olympic champion snowboarder Anna Gasser, two-time Olympic track cycling champion Kristina Vogel and Red Bull Air Race pilot Dario Costa behind the wheel in various countries.
Athletes can download the Wings for Life World Run App to their phones where they have the option of running individually or joining an App Run Event near them as part of a bigger fundraising team.
Family and friends can also be involved through the “Boost Your Favourite Runner” where they can donate an amount they choose for every kilometre or mile the athletes stay ahead of the virtual Catcher Car.
This year the Catcher Car voices will include comedy legend Catherine O’Hara of “Schitt’s Creek” fame and “Community” star Joel McHale for the US version while Marco “Büxi” Buchel (Swiss German), record-setting rally driver Cristina Gutiérrez (Spanish) and Wings for Life World Run host Nick Fellows (UK English) will also feature in other versions.
The core audio experience allows athletes a pre-race warm-up with a professional coach and Virtual Catcher Car alerts, while International Sports Director and two-time world 110m hurdle champion Colin Jackson gives updates from Race Control in the entertainment experience.