Wings for Life World Run

Wings for Life World Run

May 3, 2020
Starting: 7:00 AM


This event has been cancelled/postponed. Please check back for new information.

By: Harvey Fialkov | Mar 4, 2020

A Race Where Spinal Cord Research Wins

Have you ever heard of a world-wide race with no finish line and no losers? A race where everyone’s a winner, especially spinal cord researchers who receive every cent of the entry fees from more than 120,000 competitors around the world.

Welcome to the Wings for Life World Run (WFLWR), which after six successful years at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, has shifted to Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, the prestigious Miami Open tennis tournament and the recently concluded Super Bowl LIV.

On May 3, 2020 beginning at 7 a.m. (eastern time zone), thousands of runners or walkers of all ages who normally compete in 5K, 10K, half-marathons, full marathons and triathlons, will join forces with wheelchair rollers and take off outside of Hard Rock Stadium. All participants will start at the exact same time as their racing comrades from 12 other venues across the planet, blasting off from their respective starting lines.

Thirty minutes after the starter’s gun sounds, a technologically controlled (speed) Catcher Car, often driven by a celebrity, will attempt to chase down the runners, and one by one eliminate them.

“This race takes away the fear of distances by traditional runners,’’ race director Zoltan Polgar said. “There’s no finish line. Where else can a mother in France run against her son in Chicago; or a father getting off his couch to walk a few kilometers with his daughter, who runs 6 miles, yet they’ll share a medal and experience. “The athletes are running for those who can’t, for wheelchair participants who can’t put one foot in front of the other, so please come out and be part of this amazing, cool event.’’

Formula One champion racer David Coulthard continues to pay it forward as a volunteer driver of a Catcher Car in honor of his mentor, Frank Williams, a quadriplegic who helped ignite his career. “I spent my life putting the pedal to the metal, and here I am … driving at a dizzying 15 mph,’’ Coulthard joked. “Every person I pass is the most memorable, until the next one. But it’s the people in wheelchairs that give me goosebumps. To me, their achievement is more inspirational and admirable than the long-distance professionals. Those guys have a great talent and I admire their work ethic, but people who overcome adversity are my real heroes.’’

Other countries hosting the Wings for Life Run at the same time, albeit at 3 a.m. or 5 p.m., are Peru, Great Britain, France, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Austria, Croatia, Japan and Georgia. They’ll be joined by thousands more individuals and groups who will also be using the Wings for Life mobile app, all attempting to outrun the virtual Catcher Car from wherever they live.

Time is no factor - endurance is! The last man and woman standing will win a trophy and the ability to travel to any 2021 Flagship Run. The final man and woman in manual wheelchairs left will proudly hoist their trophies and a $1,000 prize pack, while everyone earns a medal and a WFLWR T-shirt.

Last year, Nina Zorina of Russia won after running 33.3 miles, while countryman Ivan Motorin won after nearly 40 miles. But thanks to the not-for-profit Wings for Life, the real winners are every family and person affected by a spinal cord injury. Researchers have estimated that as of 2019, between 249,000 and 363,000 people are living with SCI in the U.S., and millions are in wheelchairs worldwide.

Thirty-one year old Miami native, Woody Beckham, became paralyzed while playing rugby at Florida Atlantic University nine years ago. Beckham is a WFLWR race ambassador and is sponsoring up to 200 runners as part of his Woody Foundation Team, a non-profit organization that raises funds for the recovery of people with SCI. “This race is a symbol of hope that a cure can be possible,’’ said Beckham, who played football and lacrosse at Miami Gulliver Prep. “That hope is very powerful, that one day I’ll be able to get out of bed and dress myself independently. A cure for paralysis once seemed impossible, then improbable, but now it’s on the horizon. I want it yesterday.’’

Certainly, South Florida runners, residents and any Miami Dolphins football fan knows how this mission hits close to home ever since Marc Buoniconti was paralyzed after making a tackle for The Citadel in 1985. That prompted Marc’s father, Nick Buoniconti, the late Hall of Fame linebacker who starred for the Dolphins Perfect Season team of 1972, to launch the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The WFL board has dispersed a portion of the race’s proceeds to its fellow philanthropic brethren.

No matter where on the course circling the stadium or in western Miramar (for the long-distance runners), when a recreational or competitive runner is passed by the Catcher Car, a shuttle car will cart the racer back to the reunion area where there will be music, plenty of Red Bull, champagne, beer, fruit and food provided. From there, racers congregate to monitor the other 12 simultaneous WFL runs around the globe on a live feed (Red Bull TV) telecast on Hard Rock Stadium’s outside, state-of-the-art, 137-by-50-foot Jumbotron.

Polgar praised Sunrise for being great hosts for the first six editions of the WFLWR, but chose to move closer to Miami in an effort to grow an event that has attracted more than 620,000 people and 193 nationalities from approximately 70 nations.

After the race and fun-filled morning, racers are welcome to enjoy revitalized, diversified Miami Gardens and its restaurants and parks.

Read More:

Miami Marathons & Triathlons
Miami's Best Running Routes
How To Stay Fit And Healthy While Traveling In Miami
Annual Miami Sporting Events

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