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SOURCE Wings for Life World Run
Calum Neff and Haley Chura are U.S. champions in worldwide game of chase
SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a remarkable global race with no finish line, 35,397 runners from around the world simultaneously ran today in the first-ever Wings for Life World Run, a race dedicated to funding research into spinal cord injury. In the end, the last male and female running were Ethiopia's Lemawork Ketema in Austria and Elise Molvik in Norway, who ran for 48.83 miles and 34.04 miles, respectively, before being caught by a 'Catcher Car,' an innovative moving finish line that pursued the runners from behind. In the United States, Santa Clarita, Calif. runner Calum Neff and Sunrise, Fla. runner Haley Chura were the last male and female running before being caught.
According to Anita Gerhardter, CEO of the Wings for Life Foundation, more than 4.16 million dollars was raised directly from the inaugural Wings for Life World Run to benefit spinal cord injury research.
Runners of all levels from 164 nations made history as they synchronized their feet at 34 race locations in 32 countries on six continents and attempted to outrun the 'Catcher Car.' Runners got a 30-minute head start on the vehicle, which then began to pursue everyone at 9.3 mph. Every hour, the car sped up, first to 9.94 mph, then to 10.56 mph, then 12.43 mph, and finally 21.75 mph. The car stayed at 21.75 mph until the last participant was caught.
In the U.S., runners in custom-created ASICS shirts kicked off the race in the early morning at three locations: Santa Clarita, Calif. at 3 am local time; Denver, Col. at 4 am local time; and in Sunrise, Fla. at 6 am local time.
Below are the local male and female winners of each U.S. race, along with the mile mark where they were caught:
Santa Clarita, Calif. – Calum Neff (36.36 miles) and Jeannie Rutherford (22.15 miles)
Denver, Colo. – Hunter Paris (34.41 miles) and Erlena Josifi (20.83 miles)
Sunrise, Fla. – Michael Wardian (35.88 miles) and Haley Chura (28.34 miles)
"Not seeing the global runners, but knowing that they were right there with me in the race, I had to keep pushing myself and it came down to personal drive," said Neff. "I knew I had to get to the crest of the hill, and that if I did I could put a gap in it because at that point it was head-to-head with Florida. That downhill portion that I worked so hard to get to was what gave me that win today."
As top U.S. finishers, Calum Neff and Haley Chura will choose anywhere in the world to run in next year's Wings for Life World Run. Jeannie Rutherford, Hunter Paris, Erlena Josifi and Michael Wardian will select any US location to run at next year. Confirmed cities for the May 3, 2015 race will be announced at a later date and fans are encouraged to sign up for updates at http://www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com/join.
"My goal was to run 13 miles, but when the car hadn't caught me yet once I got to mile 23, I really wanted to win this," said Haley Chura. "I was thinking about the cause and about people who can't run, and how lucky I was on this beautiful day. I was relieved when it finally did catch me."
Ethiopia's Lemawork Ketema in Austria and Norway's Elise Molvik, the last male and female runners worldwide to be caught by the 'Catcher Car,' received the top prize - an extraordinary month-long trip around the world, with stops in Salzburg, Istanbul, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Sydney, Fiji, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro.
In the wheelchair class, 10-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden, outlasted 16 competitors in Sunrise, Fla. to be crowned national champion. She was caught at the 11.3 mile mark and will select any location in the world to race next year. McFadden has had a memorable month, as she also was the winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon women's wheelchair race.
Eric LeGrand, an inspirational voice in the spinal cord injury community after being paralyzed in a 2010 college football game, was an ambassador for the Wings for Life World Run and attended the Sunrise, Fla. race. Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which was established in 2013, is dedicated to funding research to find a cure for paralysis and to help improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries.
In addition to LeGrand, hundreds of notable athletes participated globally, whether they ran two miles or 30. Each was eventually caught and passed by the 'Catcher Car.' Here are headline participants who ran for those who can't in the three USA races:
Denver, Col. – Football All-Pro DeMarcus Ware; snowboarder Louie Vito; skiers Nick Goepper, Chris Davenport, Grete Eliassen and Sarah Hendrickson; mountain biker Rebecca Rusch; ultrarunner Karl Meltzer; and snowmobile star Jake Scott.
Sunrise, Fla. – Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones; wakeboarder Steel Lafferty; ultra marathon champion Michael Wardian; road cycle star Tim Johnson; and Handball legend Timbo Gonzales.
Santa Clarita, Calif. – America's Cup champion skipper Jimmy Spithill; windsurfer Robby Naish; surfers Jamie O'Brien, Ian Walsh, Carlos Burle and Maya Gabiera; waterman Kai Lenny; BMX bike riders Corey Bohan, Anthony Napolitan and Mike "Hucker" Clark; freestyle motocross stars Robbie Maddison and Ronnie Renner; and skateboarder Joey Brezinski.
There were coastal runs in Croatia, Australia and Argentina; urban runs in Barcelona, Bratislava, Seoul and Kiev; and scenic tracks in Canada, France and Austria.
The Wings for Life World Run was not a traditional 10K run, nor a marathon with a clear finish line. Across 13 time zones in day and night conditions, geo-synced GPS systems and RFID technology recorded the parallel global results, coordinated by 110 timekeepers with four tons of timing equipment, plus the 34 'Catcher Cars.' Worldwide, approximately 200 cameras and 34 television feeds brought the extravaganza to a world of supporters and spectators, friends and family.
Global Results Men: 1. Lemawork Ketama (ETH)/Austria 2. Remigio Huaman Quispe (PER)/ Peru 3. Evgeny Glyva (UKR)/ Austria 4. Giorgio Calcaterra (ITA)/ Italy 5. Paul Michelletti (NZL)/ UK 6. Daniele Baldino (ITA)/Italy 7. Wouter Decock (BEL)/Belgium 8. Rainer Predl (AUT)/Austria 9. Rainer Achmuller (AUT)/Italy 10. Wolfgang Wallner (AUT)/ Austria
Global Results Female: 1. Elise Molvik (NOR)/ Norway 2. Nathalie Vasseur (FRA)/ France 3. Svetlana Shepalova (MDA)/ Turkey 4. Mfanzi Ntombesintu (RSA)/ South Africa 5. Lea Baumler (GER)/ Germany
Millions of people around the world are living with a spinal cord injury, and each year 250,000 more are traumatically injured – the main cause being traffic accidents. 100% of the registration fees from the World Run go directly to the Wings for Life Foundation to fund research to cure spinal cord injury.
To download television news and web-quality video, photos and infographic assets for editorial use, please visit http://www.wingsforlifeworldrunnewsroom.com/.
About the Wings for Life Foundation
Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. Its mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. The organization funds world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed at healing the injured spinal cord. The driving forces behind Wings for Life are two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz. In 2003, Kinigadner's son Hannes had a tragic accident, which left him tetraplegic. Moved by the dreadful injury, Kinigadner and Mateschitz learned there is legitimate reason to hope that traumatic spinal cord injury can be cured and realized that research into spinal cord injury was underfunded. This realization prompted Kinigadner and Mateschitz to set up the Wings for Life research foundation – with the goal of finding ways to cure all people affected.
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