Thanks to an App, they ran, walked or rolled simultaneously in the Wings for Life charity run.
Over 77,000 people across 104 countries came thanks an application together to achieve what had seemed impossible in the current situation. Even if in the past weeks limitations and restrictions were dominating our daily lives and made many events impossible, so it seemed like unthinkable that a running event with 77,103 participants of 171 nationalities in 104 countries would work and runners could run, no matter what timezone they were in. From Europe to the United States and from Tanzania to Taiwan, everyone ran according to local distancing regulations. It was made possible thanks to an App, which enabled everyone to run individually following their own course. Every participant ran or rolled as far as they could until they were caught by the iconic Catcher Car, the moving finish line.
“It’s incredible that so many people have come together for the Wings for Life World Run”, stated Lindsey Vonn, one the best female skier of all time, “There’s no other race like it. So many events had to be cancelled, and there’s this one thing we could all do together for a good cause.” Separated by distance but united in spirit, the running competition raised €2.8 million for spinal cord injury research. Worldwide, millions of people are dependent on a wheelchair after having sustained a spinal cord injury. Wings for Life is a nonprofit spinal cord research foundation with the single mission to find a cure for spinal cord injury. “The Wings for Life World Run is a great thing. And it’s for a great cause, because I really hope – and I’m pretty sure – that one day they will be able to heal spinal cord injury. That would be sensational, and for sure a big day in history”, commented the professional tennis player Dominic Thiem.
With the Wings for Life World Run App, people worldwide could join the Run, each on their own, if permitted by any local and national restrictions.
In a normal world, under normal conditions once a year the Wings for Life World Run is held across the globe. All participants start at the same time, worldwide. 2020 was different. Every participant had to ran individually using the App, whether it was day or night in their location. It is not an ordinary running competition with a finish line you have to reach as fast as possible, instead, 30 minutes after the start, a virtual Catcher Car begins the pursuit, and catch up the participants one after the other. Results aren’t measured in time, but in distance achieved. Best of all: 100% of entry fees and donations goes directly to spinal cord research and will help to find a cure for spinal cord injury. In the seven completed editions since 2014, the Run attracted almost 700,000 people from 193 nationalities to participate in more than 104 countries across all seven continents.
Kai Pflaume, well-known TV host, commented, “Even if the Wings for Life World Run as a normal Run with thousands of other people here in Munich would have been much more fun, the virtual run with the App was great too.” The famous German TV presenter added, “I am proud that I managed to complete the half marathon I had set myself before the Catcher Car reached me.”
Nina Zarina of Russia won her second consecutive women’s Global Championship with 54.23 km. Michael Taylor of Great Britain captured his first men’s Global Championship with 69.92 km.
During the final minutes, it all came down to the British newcomer Michael Taylor and two-time Global Champion Aron Anderson of Sweden. In a nailbiter, it was Taylor who prevailed with his 69.92 km to 68.15 km for the Swede. In taking the women’s crown, Russia’s Nina Zarina (54.23 km) held off a determined effort by 2017 Global Champion Dominika Stelmach of Poland to win by 2.98 km.
TOP THREE, WINGS FOR LIFE WORLD RUN 2020
Men: 1) Michael Taylor (GBR) 69.92 km, 2) Aron Anderson (SWE) 68.15 km, 3) Dariusz Nozynski (POL) 67.1 km
Women: 1) Nina Zarina (RUS) 54.23 km, 2) Dominika Stelmach (POL) 51.25 km, 3) Martyna Kantor (POL) 50.38 km
“It was great to be part of this Wings for Life World Run. Running with the App was something new, and a lot of fun. It’s really something to have in mind that over 77,000 were starting at the same second”, concluded Austrian ski legend Marcel Hirscher.