We have recently been working with the Wings for Life charity, set up by Red Bull to fund research into spinal injuries, on the inaugural Wings for Life World Run, which took place on Sunday 4 May.

The race was funded entirely by Red Bull which meant that every penny of the entry fees would go to funding research to help people with spinal injuries and we were delighted to be able to help the Wings for Life & Red Bull team recruit as many people to what is a unique running event and a very worthwhile charity.

How the race works

The key thing for the organisers was trying to explain how the race worked: the World run as two completely unique aspects to it. Firstly, there is no finish line. Thirty minutes after the starting gun, a pair of ‘chaser cars’ cross the start line and chase down the runner, driving at a fixed speed, increasing at a fixed rate. This means that rather than having the traditional finish line mat at the end of a set distance, the ‘finish line’ was in the chaser cars and as they passed each runner, their race was over. The winner would be the last person to be caught by the car.

The other unique aspect to this race is that it is a truly global event with races starting simultaneously in 35 locations around the world. That meant that while the runners in the UK enjoyed an 11am start, those in other cities started at very different times – some in the middle of the afternoon and some in the middle of the night. This meant that there would be national male and female winners in each location and a pair of global winners – the man and woman who ran the furthest in any of the races.

Freestak’s role

Our role was to engage with both influencers and elite athletes, to encourage them to sign up for the race and tell as many other runners about it as possible.

In terms of the elite athletes, we were able to bring together a really great group with a vast number of wins and amazing performances between them. We helped to get them organised in the run up to the race and on the morning, making sure that the PR team had all the interviews they needed whilst also making sure that the athletes had the time and space to prepare for the race.

In the end the last two women and last two men to be caught were all runners that we had helped to get at the race, with the national winners – Paul Martelletti and Joasia Zakrzewski both winning the chance to race at any Wings for Life World Run in 2015 (Australia and New Zealand were both mentioned!)

Not just assisting, but running as well

From L-R: Wanda Summers who has recovered from a spinal injury and now runs ultra marathons, elite athlete Tracy Dean and Julie from Freestak

While the winners were storming away from the rest of the field at the front, Julie and Simon both had a crack at this unusual race. It was a very hot day and the course is anything but flat – undulating is probably a fair description – and despite that Julie managed to run for just over 12 miles while Simon hung on until 23.2 miles before the catcher car caught him (it is worth noting that the UK men’s winner, Paul, managed 43.1 miles while Joasia was beyond 28 miles before she was caught).

The concensus from the elite athletes, the influencers and Simon and Julie themselves is that the concept is really interesting and the idea that there is a car coming along behind certainly acts as a spur to run just that little bit harder. Everyone said that they will consider coming back next year!


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