On 3 May 2015, South African runners of all ages and abilities will again join the world’s most inspiring race when the WINGS FOR LIFE WORLD RUN (WFLWR) returns to 35 locations on six continents at 12pm SAST (11am UTC).
Entries open at 1pm SAST today, 1 October 2014, from which time South African athletes of all abilities can register for the 2015 event. Wheelchair participants and able-bodied runners will compete side-by-side, a first for the South African leg of the race.
The inaugural WFLWR hosted more than 35,000 athletes globally, of which more than 600 participants ran in Franschhoek. The WFLWR changed the face of racing as all over the world, runners start simultaneously in varying light and weather conditions. Instead of racing towards a finish line, runners keep out of reach of a catcher car equipped with electronic sensors for as long as possible, meaning that each individual runner races against an international field and themselves.
In 2014, after five hours of race time, just three athletes were left running. Only about 90 meters separated the global champion in Austria from the runner-up in Peru. The South African ladies winner, Ntombesintu Mfunzi, placed third in the international ladies race, while South African men’s winner Coolboy Ngamole placed in the top 20 of the world’s male runners.
RUNNING FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T
One hundred percent of entry fees from the WFLWR go to the Wings for Life Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that funds research projects around the world that seek to find a cure for traumatic spinal cord injury. More than €3 million was raised by the WFLWR in 2014 – about R43.5 million.
“In addition to raising funds, events like the Wings for Life World Run are needed to increase public awareness of spinal cord injury and how it results in mobility impairment. We urge South Africans to get involved in the WFLWR, and stay involved so that together we are advocates for better resources, more research and better infrastructure for South Africans with disabilities,” says Pieter du Preez, local Wings for Life World Run Ambassador and C6 quadriplegic super-athlete.
Colin Jackson, known as one of the world’s best hurdle runners, is International Sports Director of the race, and says, “Spinal cord injury could happen to anyone. Everyone is an awkward slip or fall away from a shocking, life-changing accident. And there’s not enough investment into research about it. We need to raise money so we can capture the best scientists who will stick around and make a real difference in people’s lives.”
International sports personalities and celebrities worldwide rallied and became ambassadors as well as active participants in the 2014 event: 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 as well as former F1 driver David Coulthard. In South Africa, adding their voices and legs to the cause in addition to Pieter du Preez were actresses Vanessa Haywood and Hlubi Mboya, and ultra trail-runner Ryan Sandes.
For more details and to register, please visit the Wings for Life World Run website: www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com. Like the WFLWR Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WingsForLifeWorldRun and follow WFLWR on Twitter for updates: www.twitter.com/WFLWorldRun (#WorldRun #WingsForLife)
Facts & figures from the first Wings For Life World Run in 2014:
· Global Men’s winner: Lemawork Ketema (ETH, 78.58 km)
· Global Women’s winner: Elise Selvikvag Molvik (NOR, 54.78 km)
· South African Men’s Winner: Coolboy Ngamole (59.84 km)
· South African Women’s Winner: Ntombesintu Mfunzi (47.57 km)
· Money raised: €3 million (starting fees of the 50,110 registered runners plus donations)
· Total kilometers: 530,928 – the equivalent of one runner taking more than 13 laps around the world
· Runners starting: 35,397
· Still running at 1 hour mark: 29,847
· Still running at 2 hour mark: 5,146
· Still running at 3 hour mark: 327
· Still running at 4 hour mark: 26
· Still running at 5 hour mark: 3
· Marathon distance achieved: 233
· Average distance: 14.99 km
More about the Wings for Life Foundation:
Founded by former two-time Motocross World Champion Heinz Kinigadner and Red Bull Founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2004, the Wings for Life Foundation aims to find a cure for traumatic spinal cord injuries. The foundation enables the implementation of important research projects by providing targeted financial support. To find out more about the Wings for Life Foundation, visit www.wingsforlife.com/en.