Loneliness of the long-distance runner? No more! In the last few years, once-solitary joggers have bonded with like-minded endorphin-loving runners, the world over.
And never has the idea of team been more strongly seen than in the Team Run challenge. There are hundreds of them! From 2014’s first team, Wings for Daniel, still going strong in the Netherlands and Spain, to the entertainingly serious teams of Austria’s telecoms company, A1, where the bosses are taking on the employees, the Team Run challenge has sparked excitement worldwide.
Last year’s winner in Germany, Florian Neuschwander, ran for German movie star Matthias Schwaighofer’s team. His 74.56km helped the winning team pound out 3,229.88km together.
Neuschwander is definitely out to win it. “I mean my team is now the biggest worldwide and runners just keep coming. I’d love to have 400 by May 8. Matthias Schweighöfer's team has far fewer runners, at the moment. By my count, he has a long way to go to even come close to challenging us.”
Come on Matthias Schweighöfer, you’re being called out!
So what is it about running in a team that gets people pumped up?
“I enjoy the spirit most of all!” says Neuschwander, “It is really special to run in such a big team. It brings people together, and we all have a lot of fun.”
“Imagine that on May 8, the whole world runs together. That's just amazing! It's easy. Just run. It's for charity and we’re all running together for those who can’t. And after the run, we’ll have a global-size party.
"I set up my Run with the Flow Team because I really like to run with all different people and characters. In Frankfurt I work in a running store, and we have a community run every Monday. It’s great with about 50 people turning up to run together and having fun.”
His team, Run with the Flow, just keeps growing! But unlike Matthias Schweighöfer, who last year offered a role in one of his movies the Team Runner who laid down the most kilometres, the people putting their weight behind Team Flow are doing it for the love of running … and maybe just a bit of the glory.
Because who doesn’t want to be on the winning team?!
“Last year I was in Matthias Schweighöfer's team. He won the Team Run challenge with 151 team members. I decided to go for the biggest team in 2016, so I got in early and shared Team Run with the Flow on my Facebook and Instagram page. So many people jumped on board because I had my own team. It was really cool.”
Today, Team Run with the Flow is the largest team worldwide, but he’s far from the only team. At the moment, there are 1400 teams prepping for the big day.
Lemawork Ketema, Wings for Life World Run Global Champion for two years in a row, has set up his team to help runners cover 19km in one hour 45 minutes, keeping them at a pace of 5:30 per kilometre before the Catcher Car gets them. Lemawork’s team will start next to Vienna’s iconic big wheel, while Neuschwander, ranked sixth worldwide last year, is heading for Munich.
“We have a big team bus driving from Frankfurt to the Wings for Life World Run in Munich. And all the Run with the Flow team members will get together before the race.”
Teams don’t have to run together, though. Team members can run in any of the 34 locations, worldwide.
“It’s so cool! We’re not all running in the same race,” grins Neuschwander, “Amazingly, over 40 of my team will be in different countries. Of course, the biggest group will be in Germany, with around 200 of us heading for Munich to start together.”
Which team will you join? Or do you think you can build a bigger one?
Catcher Car driver, Adolfo Aguilar in Lima, Peru
Lemawork Ketema, Global Champion 2014 and 2015
Daniel Ricciardo, Race number 1 and Formula 1 driver
Mike Shaw, Canadian ski coach
Anita Gerhardter, Wings for Life CEO