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Wings for Life World Run returns with 100 per cent virtual event

The Wings for Life World Run, a virtual event that raises money for spinal cord research, is set for May 9

Photo by: Joerg Mitter for Wings for Life World Run/Red Bull Content Pool

The eighth edition of the Wings for Life World Run is set to be held virtually on May 9, and this unique event is open to participants worldwide. This is an event with no set distance, and participants instead run to see how far they can go. More important than the run itself is the fundraising side of the event, and over the better part of a decade, the Wings for Life World Run has raised tens of millions of dollars for spinal cord research around the globe. 


A virtual World Run

Normally, the Wings for Life World Run is a hybrid event, with in-person runs held at the same time as athletes who opt to compete virtually. That changed in 2020, as the pandemic forced organizers of the many in-person events worldwide to cancel their runs. This year, the wholly virtual format will return, and the action starts at the exact same time for everyone running. 

RELATED: Wings for Life World Run raises $4.2 million for spinal cord injury research

The run begins at 11 a.m. UTC on May 9, which means some people will be running in the morning, others will get at it in the afternoon and some will be starting in the middle of the night. (To all you runners out in B.C., sorry for the early wakeup call, but it’s for a good cause, and you can always go back to bed once you finish your runs.) 

The way the race works is quite simple. Firstly, as already mentioned, you run for as long as you can. There is a wrinkle added to this, which comes in the form of what the Wings for Life team calls the “Catcher Car.” This car, which participants will see on the event app, starts moving at 11:30 a.m. UTC, half an hour after the run starts. It starts off at 14K per hour, but slowly gets faster as the day progresses.

Photo: Philipp CARL Riedl for Wings for Life World Run/Red Bull Content Pool

By 3:30 p.m. UTC, the Catcher Car reaches its max speed of 34K per hour and chases down any remaining runners. When the Catcher Car passes you, your day is done, and you’ll be ranked based on your final mileage. 

Getting the app 

Many virtual races require that participants use Strava or other tracking apps to record their runs, which will then be uploaded to the event website to create the final results. With the Wings for Life World Run’s unique format and the Catcher Car, Strava and other programs won’t work for this event, and participants need to use the Wings for Life app. 

RELATED: Humboldt survivor joins Wings for Life virtual run

Organizers recommend downloading the app in advance so participants can make sure they know how it works. There is even the option of using the app for test runs, so you can get used to it before May 9 and avoid any surprises. 



In 2020, 77,000 people participated in the Wings for Life World Run, and the event raised more than $4 million for spinal cord research. It should also be noted that 100 per cent of the proceeds raised by Canadians are used to support spinal cord research in Canada, and to date, Wings for Life has funded dozens of Canadian studies.

To find out more about the 2021 Wings for Life World Run and to register for the event, click here.

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