While almost 100,000 athletes monitor their diets and make final adjustments to their exercise routines, an army of organisers and race staff are putting the finishing touches to today’s Wings for Life World Run.
Gurgaon, 3rd May, 2015: From global race control in Spielberg, Austria to the 35 locations stretching from California to Japan, with Gurgaon in India, all eyes are on the start of the mass charity run today, at 4:30 PM IST (11am UTC), May 3.
During Saturday’s rehearsal the excitement was cranked up yet another level.
Last year’s global champion, Ethiopia’s Lemawork Ketema, returned to the scene of his victory in Austria to pose by the 78km mark where the Catcher Car finally caught up with him 12 months ago.
Stratos jumper Felix Baumgartner received his lesson in driving the Catcher Car ahead of the race in Bucharest while thousands of runners checked out the course and refined their preparation.
In India, badminton champion Ashwini Ponnappa too took the wheels for a practice spin, gearing up for her role as the Indian Catcher Car driver.
Spanning 12 time zones and around 30 degrees in temperature range, the Wings for Life World Run is a mass event like no other.
“This is a huge logistical operation and we are thrilled that the final pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place,” said Anita Gerhardter, the CEO of Wings for Life Foundation, which aims to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
“It’s an extremely exciting and proud moment for us all and we are so looking forward to our big day. So many people, not least the athletes, have put in so much effort into this and we are really hoping for a fabulous day of inspiring action from all of our venues.’
When the mass start resounds around the globe today, runners of all ages and abilities as well as wheelchair athletes will start the battle against the fleet of Catcher Cars which slowly reel in the field until only one winner is left standing.
World Cup and Olympic skiers Aksel Lund Svindal and Henrik Kristoffersen will be at Norway’s Stavanger venue with Svindal at the wheel of the Catcher Car, predicted by the weathermen to be the coldest of all routes at around 10 degrees Celsius.
Several thousand miles away, and 30 degrees hotter in temperature, the Gurgaon venue in India is expected to test the runners with searing heat approaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Across the globe, trophies are being prepared, race routes marked out, and interest is building across the social media networks.
Friends and family alike can join in the tension by following it all in the live experience area at www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com where live streams from all 35 locations will be available.
Wherever you look there are fascinating competitors taking part, rivalries being played out as well as the colour and pageantry you would expect in an event of this scale and reach.
At Olten in Switzerland, a chorus of cow bells will ring out to start the race while the Catcher Cars at the venue in Breda, Netherlands will be sent on their way by the deafening roar of cannons.
Former Formula One team mates David Coulthard and Mark Webber will be enjoying in different ways. Webber running in the venue at Silverstone while Coulthard will have to fight all his racing instincts by driving the Catcher Car at slightly more sedate pace than he is used to.
Current Infiniti Red Bull racing driver line-up Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat are also taking part in the Selfie Run, the app where athletes unable to make one of the official locations can test themselves against the rest of the world.
There are headline grabbers all over the competition.
Brazil’s Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima hit the headlines in 2004 when he was leading the men’s marathon at the Olympic Games in Athens only for a spectator to barge him aside and ruin his chances of the gold medal. He’s likely to be among the favourites in the race at Brasilia.
Indian chess grandmaster Tania Sachdev will also be putting the board to one side for the afternoon when she competes in the searing heat at Gurgaon. Top Indian athletes like boxers Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar, Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, Cricketer Joginder Sharma, Hockey players Mamta Kharab and Sandeep Singh, Mountaineer Mamta Sauda and India’s 1st blade runner Major DP Singh are also getting set to run in this extraordinary race. Local Ambassador and Bollywood Actor Ayushmann Khurrana will also be present to cheer the runners!