Women’s Division Race Winner Jeannie Rutherford competes at the Wings For Life World Run in Santa Clarita, California, USA on 04 May, 2014.
(Spielberg, Austria,) With three weeks to go, the big names and the big numbers keep coming in the global charity running phenomenon that already has 60,000 registered competitors.
Felix Baumgartner poses for a portrait at the ADAC 24 hour race at Nurburgring in Nurburg, Germany on June 20th, 2014
- Photographer Credit Bernhard Spöttel / Audi / Red Bull Content Pool
With registration closing on April 28, the likes of Australian Formula One drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber, German marathon champion Sabrina Mockenhaupt and French World Cup downhiller Luc Alphand will be taking part, trying to keep ahead of the event’s unique Catcher Car, which acts as a moving finish line.
Both the runners and the Catcher Car drivers are expected to have a lot of fun, action and challenges on the way.
Scotland’s David Coulthard, for example, has built a career on blistering speeds and being first to the finish line, but at the Wings for Life World Run next month, a more sedate pace will have his heart pounding like never before.
David Coulthard poses for a portrait for the Wings for Life World Run.
- Photographer Credit Urner for Wings for Life World Run
“I love the irony of it”, said Coulthard, a veteran of over 240 Formula One races. “I spent my life putting the pedal to the metal, and here I am at Silverstone driving at a dizzying 15 km/h. But the best part about my race day is that I know I will eventually overtake my former team mate Mark Webber, who is running at Silverstone.”
Other notable names getting behind the wheel include skiing giants Bruno Kernen and Jon Olsson, Ireland’s rugby union star Simon Zebo as well as GP2 talent Pierre Gasly, all chasing down the athletes running to raise funds and awareness for spinal cord research.
Felix Baumgartner, who will be the driver at the Wings for Life World Run in Bucharest, Romania added: “To me, sports is about setting a goal. My goal is to be the last driver out there on May 3.” Which would mean Romania would crown the Global Champion, but with 34 other locations starting at the same time, that is setting the bar high.
Jaco Claasens performs during the Wings For Life World Run in Franschoek, South Africa on May 4th, 2014
- Photographer Credit Tyrone Bradley for Wings for Life World Run
Last year, rally driver Franz Wittmann was the last man driving when he caught the first ever Global Champion, Ethiopian Lemawork Ketema, after an astonishing five hours and 78 kilometres at the run in Donautal, Lower Austria.
“By the time we caught up with Lemawork, we were joking about finding a gas station if this guy keeps on running”, Wittman said. With great runners around the world in 2015, this could be a long day at the office for the drivers chasing them.
HERE IS HOW IT WORKS
At 11.30am UTC, half an hour after the runners have started, the Catcher Cars start driving at precisely 15km/h (9.32 miles/hr). At 12.30, they speed up to 16km/h, at 13.30 to 17km/h, at 14.30 to 20 km/h and at 16.30 to 35 km/h. All the drivers will speed up at the same time, worldwide, and maintain the same speed. After two and a half hours, the runners will have covered 31km. Since the Wings for Life World Run starts at 11am UTC in all 35 locations, a Global Race Control and the help of technology ensure that all drivers speed up at precisely the same moment.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Catcher Cars are fitted with completely new tracking technology, developed specifically for the Wings for Life World Run. A participant’s local and global ranking will be determined by the distance that they cover before being passed by a Catcher Car, not by their time spent running. The Catcher Cars are governed by the Wings for Life World Run rulebook, ensuring fair and simultaneous progress on the 35 tracks around the world. The two German Catcher Cars – in Munich and Darmstadt – have been modified for drivers with spinal cord injury to chase down runners. All runners’ progress and final results across all tracks will be recorded by a timing tag hidden in each runner’s race number. The tag is activated as they cross the start line and is deactivated and their final distance recorded when they are passed by a Catcher Car.
Catcher Cars on all race tracks will leave the start line 30 minutes after the runners start the Wings for Life World Run and proceed to an accelerating global speed schedule.
11.00 UTC – RACE START
11.30 UTC – CATCHER CAR START – PACE of 15km/hr (approx. 9.3 mph)
12.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 16 kph (9.94 mph)
13.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 17 kph (10.56 mph)
14.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 20 kph (12.43 mph)
16.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE to 35 kph (approx. 21.75 mph)
ABOUT THE WINGS FOR LIFE WORLD RUN
Introduced in 2014, the Wings for Life World Run is a global running event onMay 3, 2015. Athletes in 35 locations around the world start at precisely the same time, 11am UTC. As if that wasn’t unique enough, the race has no finish line. Instead, the runners are followed by a Catcher Car, which takes off 30 minutes after the start at 15km/h and steadily increases its speed until the last athletes have been caught. Last year’s global champion, Lemawork Ketema, was caught after more than 5 hours and 78 km. This year, the Wings for Life World Run App is additionally available for training and registering for the Selfie Run. Learn more: www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com
ABOUT WINGS FOR LIFE
Worldwide, millions of people are dependent on a wheelchair after having sustained a spinal cord injury, most often as the result of a traffic accident or a fall. Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation with a mission to find a cure for spinal cord injury. Since 2004, Wings for Life has funded life-changing research projects and clinical trials around the globe. While the cure is still to be found, steady progress has been made. The €3 million raised in the inaugural Wings for Life World Run and all future entry fees and sponsorship of this global running event will help them work towards their ultimate goal. Every step taken at the Wings for Life World Run and in the Wings for Life World Run Selfie Run is a step in the right direction –www.wingsforlife.com.