The 2019 Wings for Life World Run returned to Centurion on Sunday, May 5, when 120 000 runners across the globe participated at the same time to spread awareness of spinal cord injuries and raise funds to research a cure. Among the many people in attendance in Centurion were Charleen Clarke and Mariska Morris, ROLLING INSPIRATION editor and assistant editor respectively.
“Spinal cord injuries and the research for a potential cure should be a concern to everyone,” says Morris. “Anyone can suffer a spine injury at any point in their life – especially with the high accident rate in South Africa. This event gives people the wonderful opportunity to contribute to a great cause in a fun way!”
Both Clarke and Morris were able to run more than six kilometres before the Catcher Car caught up with them. Clarke says that she was absolutely blown away by the run.
“Wow, what a truly incredible event. It was an honour and privilege to be able to run on behalf of those who cannot. The event was extremely well organised, the vibe was sensational and it was great to take part alongside people from all walks of life. I really salute the wheelchair users who took part; some of those hills really took their toll on me. This was my first Wings for Life run and it certainly won’t be my last,” she says.
Morris enjoyed her run just as much. “It is a challenge for every runner, whether you want to make it to the five-kilometre mark or plan to run a marathon. I also found it mentally challenging. You might set a personal goal and have an idea of when the Catcher Car will get you, but you can’t know for sure how far you’ll get,” she says.
“When I passed my goal of five kilometres, I really struggled to give it my best till the Catcher Car caught up with me. Next year, I hope to run at least seven or eight kilometres since I now know I’m capable of doing even better.”
From the QASA team, Philip Case, Jodie Kroone and Lowri Williams was in attendance. Kroone did an incredible 19 km, while Williams ran well over eight kilometres. Occupational therapist (OT) Lee Randall ran about six kilometres with a sign above her head to raise awareness about road safety.
“Road safety is a big issue in South Africa,” Randall says. As an OT, I’ve worked with people with injuries and disabilities for 30 years and the vast majority have sustained their disability through road crashes. It is important to press our leaders to do more to ensure road safety.”
Randall adds that South Africa ranks low among the BRICS countries when it comes to road safety, with many of its African neighbours faring much better in this regard. The global average death toll on the road is about 17 people for every 100 000. In South Africa, that number climbs to about 26 people out of 100 000.
Randall has started a campaign to highlight the importance of road safety. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos, cofounders of Smergos, also attended the event. Vergos achieved a personal best with 4,5 km, while Smit ran 5,5 km. It was the third year the Smergos team participated.
“It is such a great event and we will continue to support it every year,” Vergos says.
“And we hope to increase our team membership each year,” Smit adds. “Next year, we will be even bigger and even better.
“Everyone should try it; it is a race for everyone. You set your own goals and finish line – this is a key feature to Wings for Life and makes it unique. Someone who is in a wheelchair or not able to run far could aim for two kilometres, while professionals can aim for 38 km. Anyone can achieve their own goals.”
This year, the Wings for Life World Run raised €3,5 million (about R56 million) to fund its 142 research projects globally.