New Global Champions Aron Anderson (SWE) and Vera Nunes (POR), have a lot in common with spinal cord injury researchers. When looking for a breakthrough, they set strong goals, forge new pathways, always keep learning – and never give up.
Nunes, a runner, and Anderson, who uses a wheelchair, share a fierce determination to win! They have both competed in the past three editions of the run. After missing out on top honors in his first effort, Anderson won the Global Championship in 2017 and clinched a repeat this year, while Nunes’ maiden win is still fresh.
“It was amazing. After being third two years in a row, this victory felt great,” she says. “My coach António Sousa had won two national titles, and in the third edition I accepted the challenge and ran with him. I loved the experience – it’s a really different race, and we continue to participate because we care about this cause and this challenge!”
After previously taking part in Portugal and Chile, everything clicked for Nunes in Munich, Germany, where she outran the Catcher Car to 53.78 km. Anderson set the longest runs in the history of the event with 92.14 km in Dubai in 2017 and then 89.85 km at Sunrise, Florida, USA in 2018.
Nunes declares, “I am never satisfied with my results. I think that is what motivates me, I always want to do more and better.”
Anderson too is always looking forward, which is why he experimented with a new racing solution in Florida. “This year I put extra rubber on my gloves to get more friction,” he explains. “I’m not sure it was the right decision, but I couldn’t have known until I tried it in the real race environment.”
And when the racing gets tough, the participants dig deep. “I talk to myself in my head – that inner voice,” Anderson reveals. “Sometimes I think about people I know who are going through a hard time, and I tell myself that if they can do it, I can push a little bit more. I’m sure a lot of the participants feel that way, no matter what distance goal they’ve set for themselves.”
Like Nunes, Anderson can’t get enough of the run’s unique format. “I think it is such an amazing concept, shaking up traditional running formats with the Catcher Cars, as well as the Wings for Life World Run App that enables people to participate anywhere,” he comments. “It’s outstanding that way, and it’s also fascinating that wheelers can compete alongside the runners, so everybody’s in the mix.”
He finishes, “Last, but not least, this is for spinal cord research, a charity really close to my heart. So all those things make it a race I want to do. I’ll definitely be back next year!”