Thousands join in global race event for spinal research

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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.

Paul Martelletti, winner of the Silverstone Wings for Life World Run on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130725001
Paul Martelletti, winner of the Silverstone Wings for Life World Run on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130725001

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.

Finmere mouth-painter Keith Jansz takes part in the Wings for Life World Run at Silverstone, with Wags Firmin for support. PNL-140605-131916001
Finmere mouth-painter Keith Jansz takes part in the Wings for Life World Run at Silverstone, with Wags Firmin for support. PNL-140605-131916001

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.

Racing driver Mitch Evans and mechanic Lee Stevenson competing in the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130742001
Racing driver Mitch Evans and mechanic Lee Stevenson competing in the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130742001

The event will now become an annual one with next year’s taking place on May 3, 2015.

Participants compete during the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone,  on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130832001
Participants compete during the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone, on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130832001
Event participants pose for a portrait after completing the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130815001
Event participants pose for a portrait after completing the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130815001
The UK-winners and the UK-winners of the Wheelchair Race pose for a portrait after the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130801001
The UK-winners and the UK-winners of the Wheelchair Race pose for a portrait after the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130801001
Participants compete during the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130851001
Participants compete during the Wings for Life World Run in Silverstone on May 4, 2014. PNL-140605-130851001
 

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