With more than 120,000 genuine superheroes spreading joy and hope across 1,103,276 km, the sixth edition of the Wings for Life World Run was packed with highlights.
Some of the most memorable moments happened at the start, when paralysis patients David Mzee and Gert-Jan Oskam were able to walk across start lines in Switzerland and the Netherlands, thanks to the success of a clinical trial supported by the Wings for Life foundation.
“David’s participation shows us that the commitment of the foundation and its supporters is truly making a difference, ” said Colin Jackson, International Sports Director of the Wings for Life World Run. “There is much more research needed before we can reach our goal of finding a cure, but with a combination of great scientists and generous funding, we are clearly on our way.”
The high points continued to the end, when Russians Ivan Motorin and Nina Zarina clinched top honors as men’s and women’s Global Champions in a breathtakingly close finish, thanks to a new, faster pace for the Catcher Car.
The event was a feast for the eyes. Thousands of headlamps bobbed in the darkness of Melbourne, Australia. At an Organized App Run in Bad Reichenhall, Germany, participants took on the first vertical trail run in Wings for Life World Run history: 670 vertical meters. Trins, Austria saw fun runners alongside champion athletes like ski jumping star Gregor Schlierenzauer and Nordic Combined legend Klaus Sulzenbacher.
The weather provided some surprises, like snow in Italy, and who could forget the costumes? There were comic book characters, a lion, pirates, “nuns” and lots of tutus. Also, more than 3,300 teams joined in, and their camaraderie was contagious. Love was in the air, too, as a couple got engaged in Munich, Germany, while another tied the knot in Sunrise, USA.
Enjoying some of the best views were the Catcher Car drivers, including Dakar Rally winner Matthias Walkner and F1 icon David Coulthard. The reigning World Champion in the Giant Slalom, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, “drove” the virtual Catcher Car of the Wings for Life World Run App, and double Global Champion Aron Anderson delighted viewers in his new role as a race reporter.
Altogether, the efforts of the Wings for Life World Run participants is enabling 60 important research projects to continue in 2019 alone, including clinical trials like the one that has helped Mzee and Oskam take their first steps in many years.
Marc Herremans, the Wings for Life World Run Wheelchair Sports Director, stated, “On the way to our goal, every step and each donation counts, so we want to thank everyone for their support and for making the day so memorable.”
The Wings for Life World Run returns for a seventh edition on Sunday, May 3, 2020. Sign up now for registration alerts.