What is the Wings for Life World Run?

True to its motto, "Run for those who can't", the Wings for Life World Run is an annual charity run raising funds for spinal cord research. Sports director and former 110-meter hurdles world record holder from the UK Colin Jackson tells us what is so special about the Wings for Life World Run, and why you should have taken part in this race at least once in your life.

1. The format

In the Wings for Life World Run, the finish line crosses you, not the other way around.

Jackson explains:

“What's unique about our format is the Catcher Car, which is, in essence, a finish line that moves to you. That allows everybody to finish, so you can happily walk, run or roll in a wheelchair and just stay ahead of the Catcher Car as long as you possibly can. That’s what makes it inclusive and also exciting!”

A highlight of the 2019 run was Switzerland’s David Mzee walking across the start line in Zug. Mzee had been paralysed for years due to a spinal cord injury, but thanks to participating in a clinical trial, he was able to walk 390m before the Catcher Car caught him. Watch him in action here:

2. The cause

The run is the primary fundraiser for the not-for-profit foundation Wings for Life, whose mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

“When you realise that 100 percent of the entry fees and donations go directly to spinal cord injury research, signing up for the Wings for Life World Run is really important,” Jackson explains. “You become part of a family, giving hope to so many people. I’ve spoken to a lot of experts – scientists, technicians and so on – and they say we really will find a cure for spinal cord injury. So I know that by raising funds and contributing, we’re going to change lives.”

3. The simultaneous start

“What I love about our event is that the start time is exactly the same everywhere in the world,” says Jackson, referring to 11:00am UTC. “Some people are running in the night, some in the morning, others in the afternoon. People are also running in all sorts of climates. When I see wave after wave of people go past on screen, it just takes my breath away. All running for the same cause.”

4. The Wings for Life World Run App

In the Wings for Life World Run, you have the choice of running at a city Flagship Event or with the Wings for Life World Run App, which has a virtual Catcher Car and a fun audio experience.

Jackson elaborates: “The App is great because it gives you the ability to run wherever it’s convenient, with friends or on your own, yet you’re still connected with the world. You can even use it for a Preparation Run to see how far you might go before the Catcher Car reaches you. So it’s a fantastic thing.”

5. The vibe

No matter what your running style or fitness level, the Wings for Life World Run is a day out to remember.

“The Wings for Life World Run vibe is incredible: people dressing up in fancy outfits, or talking about the challenge of the run itself… There’s a community feel that you’re all together. You could be brothers and sisters, running on different courses, but all at the same time and all appearing on the same result list. I just love it.”

Ready to experience that vibe yourself in 2022? You can find out more and register for the Wings for Life World Run on May 8, 2022 here.