If there’s one thing we know, it’s that a passionate love for running brings people together – just ask Murat Kaya and Svetlana Shepeleva, the Wings for Life husband and wife power-couple from Turkey. The duo will be heading to Niagara Falls this year, following Svetlana’s winning run in Alanya in both 2014 and 2015 where she completed an astonishing distance of just over 50km. Her husband Murat, however, won’t be far behind; as the winner of the men’s division in Turkey during the 2014 event, he covered nearly 56km of track. We can’t wait to see what this power-couple can accomplish together in 2016.
Tell us a little about yourself – how did you get into running, and what inspired you to participate in your first Wings for Life World Run?
Murat: I was born in Bağbaşı village in Kahta/Adıyaman. I began running on September 11th 2001. One night when I was watching the news I saw that the Eurasia marathon was taking place on November 11th, so I decided to join. I wasn’t able to run between December 2003 and May 2005 because of my injury. In May, I turned back to running and ran in competitions and since then I’m still competing.
Svetlana: I was born in 1969 in Tiraspol / Moldova. I really enjoyed running when I was in school. I decided to become professional when I started university. Wings for Life is a social responsibility project, it has a unique concept and the concept of winners running the race in another country has encouraged us for running. We decided to join and run together.
How many times have you competed in Wings for Life World Run, and what was your best distance?
We both ran in Alanya twice. Murat: 65.180m, Svetlana: 50.300m.
You have competed in a lot of running events – what makes Wings for Life World Run different than other conventional running races and what are the challenges you face?
One of the unique sides of Wings for Life World Run is that there is no finish line. It has been hard weather conditions for us. Alanya is so hot and it was during midday.
What were your Top 3 choices for Wings for Life World Run destinations this year?
We were thinking Chile, Australia and Canada.
What inspired you to ultimately choose Niagara Falls? Have you ever visited Canada or Niagara Falls before?
We chose Niagara because of its nature and our friend’s advice. We’ve never been to Canada before.
How do you think the conditions (climate, track etc.) will compare in Niagara Falls versus your run last year? Is there anything different that you will need to prepare for?
Last year Alanya was too hot and humid. This year Niagara will be much more comfortable for us. We will run better because the race will begin earlier, it will be cool weather and different location which is always a good source of motivation.
What inspires/motivates you to keep running that extra mile? Do you have a personal connection to spinal cord injury?
There is nothing extra to do. It is all in our minds, determination, and focus.