In its biggest year to date, the Wings for Life World Run saw over 120,000 runners and wheelchair participants in 323 locations cover 1,103,276km, all in the name of raising funds for spinal cord injury research.
Now in its sixth year, the Wings for Life World Run raised a record-breaking €3.5-million (around R56-million). The annual global event, that took place in 72 countries this year, encourages people to run for those who can’t and provides much-needed funding for spinal cord research with 100% of the entry fee going to the Wings for Life Foundation.
This event was particularly remarkable, with Swiss participant David Mzee, who was paralyzed in a 2010 gymnastics accident, walking across the start line unassisted – the first such achievement made possible by the funds raised in this iconic event.
Mzee, who was one of three clinical-trial participants receiving Stimulation Movement Overground (STIMO) treatment took his first steps a few months ago and joined the thousands of participants in this year’s World Run to give others affected by spinal cord injury the hope that a cure is in sight.
More than 4,000 abled and differently-abled South Africans took part in the local leg of the race, held at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Irene this afternoon. Russian runner Olesya Nurgalieva and Swedish runner Niklas Sjöblom were crowned the female and male South African Champions.
Despite this year’s Catcher Car, driven by 5FM’s Nick Hamman, increasing in speeds faster than any previous year, Nurgalieva managed to outrun the Catcher Car for 42.8km.
Nurgalieva, one of the famous Comrades Twins, took home the 2018 title in Turkey last year after reaching 53.61kms. Nurgalieva chose to run in South Africa this year, once again running alongside her sister Elena, who finished in second place.
Sjöblom, who has competed in two World Run races and won in Switzerland in 2018, was caught by the Catcher Car at 53.8kms. He also felt the tough South African conditions.