Austria's Catcher Car driver, Franz Wittmann had a wonderful time on May 4, 2014, even if he did have to be on his game for a full five hours:
"We had the windows open, the sunroof open, and we just shouted and cheered from beginning to end – all of us: me, Dad, the timekeepers. Our voices started to give up around 20km, but we honked and flashed and made as much noise as we could to celebrate each runner’s achievement.
"There was happiness everywhere! Everyone was really positive. From superhero costume wearers to dancing ladies, they were all there. Seeing the guy with the stroller running at 35 km was astonishing. A lot of people ran in groups, a few lone fighters were out there as well, but the power people found in grouping up was impressive.
"We were honoured to see all those ‘Yes, I made it’ air pumps, claps, grins and arms thrown up in the air. So many goals reached and beaten – runners laughed, cheered and applauded themselves and each other. Here was the moment I got to get to high five some friends who were running – I had signed up to run with them before I got the call to drive the Catcher Car. There's my hand!"
While the Catcher Car drivers were living it up but constantly checking their speed, the participants' reactions differed radically from person to person, track to track and continent to continent.
Some lurched on, flooded with adrenalin, to put just a few more paces between the Catcher Car and the end of their race:
Others dug deep, pushing themselves to get the greatest distance and set impressive personal bests to challenge in May 2015:
For some, the only possible response was to collapse, exhausted:
Top Tip: Grass seems to be the more comfortable collapsing-on material.
But for Wittman, the biggest thrill was being the man who caught the very first Global Champion, Lemawork Ketema after 5 hours and 78km. Here he is, moments before the end.
“By the time we caught up with Lemawork, we were joking about finding a gas station if this guy keeps on running”, Wittman said.
Driving the Catcher Car is a challenge, there's no question about that. Having to maintain a prescribed speed for over five hours, with no option for a break. It's tough. But the emotion was greater in the Wings for Life World Run than in any other running event before it.
Both the Catcher Car drivers and the runners delighted in the camaraderie, the support and the overcoming of challenge that oozed into every part of the day, across countries and continents. To get a piece of the action and feel the love, register for the second Wings for Life World Run, on May 3, 2015.