In the very emotional comeback of the year, Michael Wiese takes on the Catcher Car in real life after experiencing the Wings for Life World Run by virtual reality in 2017
Just two years ago, Michael Wiese had an accident during a football tournament. The passionate athlete knew something wasn’t right as soon as it happened, saying, ‘Help me, I’m paralyzed.’ And that moment nearly destroyed him, physically and emotionally.
On May 7, 2017, triathlete and Tough Mudder runner Michael stood on Munich’s start line alongside his ultrarunner friend Moritz auf der Heide. Only, Michi was on a sofa in Hamburg, wearing a virtual-reality headset. As Moritz ran 30km in Munich, carrying a 360-degree camera, in Hamburg, Michi felt the incredible atmosphere and spirit of the Wings for Life World Run … and he squeezed the legs that once took him wherever he wanted to go. Legs that no longer worked.
It was a powerful moment that drove him to find his strength again. Even if he couldn’t walk with his legs, he’d find a way to be in the Wings for Life World Run in 2018. "My hope to walk again motivated me to sign up. More than anything, I wanted to experience that atmosphere, to be there live – not just sit on the sofa, watching.”
And on Sunday, May 6, 2018, Michael travelled to Munich to race alongside Moritz. He was adamant he’d take on the Catcher Car himself this year. His drive, his hope and a committed support team drove him through months of training and rehabilitation to work with his partial spinal cord injury to build his strength enough to give him the hope he might walk 500 meters – with crutches and his friends alongside him.
Pushing himself out of his wheelchair, he stood at the head of the 14,000-strong pack running in Munich, alongside wheelchair athletes and weekend joggers, friends and elite runners, like two-time location winner Flo Neuschwander.
“I can’t believe it,” said Michi “It’s incredible how much support I have – from friends, from Moritz. When Moritz shared his run by live broadcast last year, he reminded me how much I love running and inspired me to get back out here.”
Together with his crutches and Moritz, Michi walked on his own two legs under clear-blue skies, feeling pride in every step he took. After the crowds had long passed, the supporters cheered him on his slow, steady race. There were high-fives everywhere and he pushed through the 500-meter mark. And the moment he passed one km was quite overwhelming. But still they kept walking.
At 1.23 km, the Catcher Car passed Michi and his friends, ending their race after 40 minutes of painstakingly taking step after step. Driver Christina Surer waved excitedly out of the windows and beeped her horn in celebration as Michi and his friends threw their hands in the air, cheering.
“I’m so proud and so grateful to everyone who has helped me. With this kind of support, I want to go further next year – maybe 1.5km.”
Michi battled through every step with all his heart, so he could raise money for spinal cord research, so, one day, there’ll be a cure for spinal cord injury, and he can walk and run as far and as often as he wants again. Join Michi next year in Wings for Life World Run 2019 and bring that day closer. You can sign up now to be a part of the global movement and run for those who can’t on May 5, 2019.