Five fantastic years of the Wings for Life World Run has seen the global movement grow from 53,721 runners to one of the biggest race events in the world. One weekend in May, well over 100,000 participants run, roll and walk to stay ahead of the Catcher Car, the unique moving finish line that keeps chasing until it passes everyone, creating finisher memories and stories that last forever.
One of the most public and inspirational friendships burgeoned all the way back in the beginning, in 2014. It was between the Global Champion and runner up, thousands of kilometers apart.
Despite going up against some of the world’s greatest ultrarunners, Lemawork Ketema, an Ethiopian refugee living in Austria, became the first Global Champion. After a nail-biting final sprint in Austria, Lemawork beat Peruvian orange-farmer Remigio Huaman Quispe – who was running 11,000km away in Lima – by just 90 meters, after covering 78.58km.
Thrown into the limelight, Ketema and Quispe developed a friendship. And although they lived continents apart and shared no language other than running, they chose to run the second edition of the Wings for Life World Run together in Austria in 2015.
“Remigio and I promised from the beginning to run together. The first 60km were super with Remigio next to me,” said Ketema after the race. “When he fell back a bit, I tried to push him on, to encourage him. I said to him, ‘Hang in there with me, then we can celebrate finishing together.’ But he couldn’t. So I carried on alone.”
One of the most touching moments of 2015 saw them share a bottle of water as they ran side by side for over 60km.
Every year, Wings for Life World Runners come together to raise money and awareness for spinal cord research.
People can take part all over the globe either at an event run or using the Wings for Life World Run App - solo or with friends in Organized App Runs. The race starts worldwide at 11am UTC, creating a unique feeling of community and excitement for all runners, rollers and walkers on that special day in May.
Sign up for 2019’s Wings for Life World Run to make a difference for people across the planet living with spinal cord injuries – and make new friendships as you go.