red bull wings for life race

Global ‘Chase’ Raises More Than $7 Million For Charity

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By foot and wheelchair, more than 155,000 participants took off on a simultaneous start around the world to raise money for spinal cord research.

wings for life charity race 2017 start
Participants start during the Wings for Life World Run in Santa Clarita, Calif., May 7, 2017. Photo credit: Carlo Cruz / Red Bull Content Pool

In the cold and damp pre-dawn hours, some 1,600 racers waited for the starting gun. When it sounded, they took off down the Santa Clarita, Calif., streets in a chase-style race. The crowd of nearly 2,000 runners and wheelchair participants was a respectable showing for any charity event.

But these racers were joined by 155,000 others who took off at the same moment in 57 other countries around the planet. The fourth-annual Wings For Life World Run was a resounding success, with a record number of participants and more than $7.1 million raised for spinal cord research.

Wings For Life World Run

red bull wings for life race
Wings for Life World Run Photo credit: Ian Witlen / Red Bull Content Pool.

Launched in 2014, the Red Bull-sponsored event is a unique format. The global “chase” drives an urgency and excitement among participants that sets it apart from most running events.

Moreover, Red Bull donates 100-percent of entry fees to the Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation. It has since raised more than $23 million toward advances in spinal cord injury treatment.

The race has grown each year, both for its charitable endeavor and its unique style. A half-hour following a mass start, an official chase vehicle takes off after the group. It accelerates at predetermined times, gradually catching up to racers, one at a time. Once the car pulls up, you’re done.

red bull wings for life charity race
Catcher Car and event participants during the Wings for Life World Run in Vienna, Austria, May 7, 2017. Photo credit Matthias Heschl / Red Bull Content Pool

'Run Until You're Caught' In New 'Chase' Race For Charity

In this race, held simultaneously at locations around the world, the last runner caught wins. Read more…

This year saw almost 25,000 more runners than in 2016 and garnered events in 111 locations total. Runners, wheelchair participants, and spectators could watch all the events in real-time on the Wings For Life World Run event page.

red bull wings for life race
Participants perform during the Wings for Life World Run in Sunrise, Fla., May 7, 2017. Photo credit: Robert Snow / Red Bull content pool

Top honors this year went to Swedish wheelchair participant Aron Anderson who raced 57.25 miles across Dubai before the chase vehicle caught up to him. Poland’s Dominika Stelmach was the global female champion, running 42.38 miles (over a marathon and a half) in Santiago, Chile.

Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.