On May 4, 2014 something truly amazing happened: the first ever Wings for Life World Run.
If you were there, if you were part of it, you’re going to want to share this with your friends and family, then sit back and glow in 100 wonderful memories. Share the happy.
If 2015 is your first time, this is what you have to look forward to.
Enjoy the ride!
100 Wonderful Memories, 100 Days To Go
1. In the beginning, there was a dream. 2. A big dream that only after years of work could, maybe, come true.
3. It started small.
4. But with team work, it grew.
5. And Wings for Life World Run was born.
6. The world would run together for those who can’t. For those who live every day with spinal cord injury.
7. With drive and passion, Wings for Life CEO Anita Gerhardter, watched as her dream became reality.
8. Colin Jackson, her knight in shining armour, rode in, the International Race Director to lead the charge.
8. Build it and they will come.
9. And they did. 33 countries joined, 35,978 runners registered. The Wings for Life World Run was happening.
10. They trained.
11. They ran, inspired by the Wings for Life World Run anthem “You’re Not Alone”
12. They heard about the Catcher Car. They read about the Catcher Car. But the Catcher Car remained a secret -- what was this beast? Ahh the Catcher Car!
13. 245 ambassadors stepped up
14. International sports personalities and celebrities worldwide rallied and became ambassadors: Austrian ultra-runner Christian Schiester, Danish Ironman European champion Camilla Pedersen, ski legend Luc Alphand, Chilean model and TV host Javiera Acevedo, Olympic champion Aksel Svindal and F1 driver Mark Webber ... and many, many more.
15.When the celebrities stepped up, the challenges started.
16. Windsurfing royalty, Robby Naish, who won his first World Championship title at 13 and dominated the championship titles for nearly two decades, set a challenge to his supporters: “The Wings For Life World Run is a fantastic initiative and as many people as possible should get involved. I absolutely hate running, but I’m going to be in Santa Clarita on 4th May, giving it my best!” and went up against Dutchman Björn Dunkerbeck, one of the most successful professional sportsmen on the planet.
17. The banter between Red Bull Formula One ‘Team Pipe and Slippers’ — David Coulthard and Mark Webber — is the stuff of legend, and in 2014 they spent a good amount of the run up to May 4 keeping us entertained.
18. The snowboarding McMorris brothers brought the fun. Their rivalry is well known in the snowboarding world, and they don’t shy from a bit of friendly competition, but in 2014 it was definitely a little different from the norm. Not only did they compete against the world, but they ran to beat each other.
19. Battle of the Beauties: Miss Austria 2000 Patricia Kaiser verses Miss Peru 2009 Karen Schwarz. Kaiser put her everything into training for the big day and motivating others to join her.
20. The ultrarunners laid down incredible MyGoals on Facebook and really got into their training, recommending a sensible balanced diet for all runners before the race. Of course. But not to the exclusion of the things we like. For UK’s Robbie Britton (who had his eyes on 70k), it’s Fruit Gums; for South Africa’s Ryan Sandes and for Austria’s Christian Schiester, whose marathon PB is 2:29, it’s pizza; for American, Karl Meltzer, a beer.
21. The Facebook community grew larger and larger, and now, with 150,000 fans, it’s second only to the New York City Marathon.
22. Countries sold out. First went Taiwan. Then Austria. The runners just kept coming.
23. And together they travelled, prepared to run for family: “Shortly before the Wings for Life World Run last year, I had a life changing accident. My 5th cervical vertebra was broken, and my spinal cord was injured. My wife and friends ran for me while I was in hospital. This was incredibly touching for me, and in 2015, I will participate in the Wings for Life World Run as well. I will not be able to run half-marathon distances any more, like I used to do, but I will go and rejoice at every metre.” Thomas Bauer, Austria.
24. For friends: Veronica Quaedvlieg was one of the first of Daniel Boot’s friends to register for the Wings for Life World Run. Daniel, who has been a wheelchair user since he fell 12 metres from a balcony in Tunisia, was deeply touched that she was running “with some amazing friends of hers that I don’t even know. I deeply respect her as a friend and would love to encourage her and Tamara in Barcelona, but I’ll be supporting friends running in Zwolle, The Netherlands, so only my thoughts can be in Barcelona. But I promised her that I’ll be in Spain for next year’s Wings for Life World Run, so she’ll have to run again!” he laughed.
25. For strangers: “If that was what it feels like when you run for a good cause, well I would do it every month! Thank you all, it was a unique experience ... thanks so much”.
26. For themselves: “I participated last year at Wings for Life World Run out of curiosity. It was a wonderful experience, which made me start running seriously. It is beneficial to my health and it is my way to relax and forget about everything.” Razvan Novac, Bucharest, Romania.
27. The seed of an idea was planted for the 2015 team runs when friends and family joined together to run for one particular person: Brooke Thabit, Barney Miller, Daniel Boot, Wolfgang Illek, Barbara Bucci
28. Four fabulous wheelchair races Rain poured down in the US at 7am local time for the 10 wheelchair racers in Florida, but the sun shone for the Austrian 10am wheelchair race with its 31 competitors. The Brazil and UK races followed close behind.
29. Hannes Kinigadner, son of Wings for Life founder, Heinz, was the first ever Wings for Life World Run competitor caught.
30. And the first ever Wings for Life World Run champions were crowned.
31. The runners gathered, meeting friends, making friends, getting ready
32. The Catcher Cars lined up.
33. The world stood on the start line at 10am UTC
36. Getting into the spirit
38. Then 3, 2, 1 ... they ran.
39. Surging forward in Belgium
40. And Croatia
41. All over the world
42. And the Spielberg team breathed a collective sigh of relief as the start went off without a hitch.
43. In the morning
44. At night
45. In the blistering heat
46. And the freezing cold
47. Dressed in neon
48. In their underpants!
49. With glowsticks
50. And headlamps to guide the way Down Under.
51. In South Africa, as the rain set in
52. Everyone ran for those who can't
53. With new friends: “Still feel conjoined to all #WorldRunners and feel the #CatcherCar in neck! Can't wait to know it’s behind (!) me when I run in 2015 for those who can’t.”
54. Old friends: The oldest runner in the Wings for Life World Run 2014 was 92-year-old Michael Selinger of Austria, who covered 8.59km, but even more impressive was he registered for the race via Facebook.
55. Special people
56. Superhero friends sticking together ... literally
57. Standing together
58. Being together
59. Running together
60. And in South Africa, the rain kept coming
61. Pulling together
62. Pushing together
63. That inspiring feeling for runners neck and neck with their fellow athletes around the world. But they won’t know until the very end of the race who won.
64. Digging deep with the Catcher Car on their heels,
65. They tried hiding in fields,
66. ... Behind cows,
67. But in the end the adrenaline took over
68. Relief took over
69. The rain, in South Africa would not let up
70. But, wow, did the dancing start in Austria
71. Exhaustion took over
72. Superhuman powers took over
73. Pride, joy and elation took over – all at once
74. But still the rain came in South Africa.
75. 35397 runners won, together.
Elise Molvik, astonishingly, only decided at the last minute to enter the race. No training. No warm up. Just a deep love of running. Then, after 54.79k on Norway’s stunning track, the Catcher Car pulled up behind the student, and she was crowned the first ever Wings for Life World Run global female winner and stepped into the history books.
Against the odds – not least against his mother -- last year's Peru winner and global runner-up, trained at 3500 metres in his village of Attalla and ran in 83% humidity. Remigio Huaman Quispe had to take out a loan to get to the Wings for Life World Run in May 2014, but he stunned the world when he was beaten by a mere 90m by Ketema in Austria.
79. A winner
Lemawork Ketema , who ran just over 78k, said ‘The Wings for Life World Run was an amazing experience because I’d never competed in a long distance run, and so I was not sure how hard to run. Winning it meant a lot to me because it was a way of showing the world – and myself – that I am good runner’.
Since May 2014, Ketema has put running at the very heart of his career and now hopes to run for Austria, his adopted home, in Rio’s 2016 Olympics:
80. And the world watched:“Last year, I watched my wife run with the world in the Wings for Life World Run. Amazingly awesome to watch! This year, I'm running with the world...I'm running for my mother... and I'm running for my family.” Steven Binns Jr, St Clarita, CA, USA
81. And the runners overwhelmed Facebook with love:
Wings for Life World Run was one incredible event, an adventure filled with excitement….It Was A Blast! We walked and ran for those who can’t today….through the efforts of WFL/Red Bull to fund SCI research, those who can’t, someday, will be able to walk and run shoulder to shoulder with us once again! See you next year!
82. Thx @WFLWorldRun!! I still have the wonderful trail Donautal, AUT in my mind's eye, motivation in legs and mind, the great idea of #WingsforLife in heart!
83. See you next year! Can you please let the Silverstone Catcher Car know it will have to work a lot harder next year.....#mynewgoal40k
84. Thank you! What a great idea, what a great day - proud to have taken part yesterday! I am looking forward to the #worldrun in 2015!
85. Really enjoyed this event in Sweden and the public were great cheering us all on, even beginners like me. Will definitely be back next year. World class event!
86.The most amazing day. Well organised and feeling emotional tonight reading everyone’s posts. Thank you for one of the best experiences and days of my life!
87. Awesome event at Silverstone today guys. Really enjoyed it. Have a good party tonight!
88. I was so glad to be part of @WFLWorldRun. 35000 people ran for the same cause. We made a difference.
89. I'm gonna start training for @WFLWorldRun 15 tomorrow, hoping to have a run near to me #wflworldrun15
90. @WFLWorldRun still sore feet, ankles and big toes but also still on an all-time high, so ... See you next year! (With new shoes, that's for sure!)
91. The event that changed the running game forever.
92. Absolutely exhilarated from @WFLWorldRun #Darmstadt! One of the best experiences I've ever had!
93. Loved the #wingsforlifeworldrun yesterday, sunburnt and aching but it was amazing! Locals were brill too! @RedBullUK @WingsforLifeUK
94. The Wings for Life World Run raised €3 million for Wings for Life to fund research for a cure to spinal cord injury.
95. It raised awareness for something that can affect any one of us at any moment in time.
96. It took TV audiences around the world on a 6:47:26 rollercoaster of emotion.
98. It took two people – Elise Molvik and Remigio Huaman Quispe – on a winners’ adventure of a lifetime.
99. It gave an Ethiopian refugee, global champion Lemawork Ketema, the chance of a new life in his adopted home of Austria.
100. And the best bit is there’s only 100 more day until you can do it all over again!
(Let's hope the sun shines on South Africa on May 3, 2015!)