Thousands of runners across the globe joined in the first ever Wings for Life World Race this weekend.
Athletes lined up at the start in 34 locations worldwide, including Silverstone Circuit, to compete in the race, the first of its kind, and raise funds for spinal cord injury research.
Rather than racing towards a finishing line, the competitors are chased by the ‘catcher car’ travelling at a pre-determined speed. Once you have been overtaken by the ‘catcher car’ your race is finished. All the events kicked off simultaneously, which meant racers in Silverstone started out at 11am. The field included former Formula 1 Red Bull racing driver Mark Webber as well as our own Keith Jansz. The Finmere mouth-painter who wore the tracksuit he was given to carry the Olympic torch in 2012 for the occasion, said the experience was a thrilling one.
Keith, who uses a wheelchair following a car accident in 1995 which left him paralysed from the shoulders down, is also an ambassador for the Wings For Life cause.
He said: “Just a marvellous event to be part of with a great fun spirit of the day. I managed to raise over £2,000 for Wings for Life spinal research and it’s a great big thanks to all my wonderful supporters.”
Keith, who needs some help to move his wheelchair himself, took part in the main event alongside more than 800 others, rather than the elite wheelchair section. He was overtaken by the ‘catcher car’ at 5.5kms.
The global winner was Ethiopian athlete Lemawork Ketama who ran 78.57km before being caught in Austria. Eighteen-year-old Norwegian Elise Molvik, who had previously only run as far as 30km, was the female global winner in her home country, running 54.79km.
The Silverstone winners, Paul Martelletti and Joanna Zakrzewski, finished fifth and seventh globally with distances of 69.37km and 45.39km respectively.
Mark Webber set himself a target of 10km but managed to keep going until 28.36km.
In total 35,397 runners started the race and travelled 530,928 collectively. The race, which sees all of its £40 entry fee donated to spinal cord injury research, raised €3 million.
The event will now become an annual one with next year’s taking place on May 3, 2015.