Global Fundraiser Sets Record As Largest Running Event In History With 184,236 Registered Participants

NEW YORK, May 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On Sunday a total of 184,236 runners, walkers, and wheelchair rollers from 151 countries…

NEW YORK, May 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On Sunday a total of 184,236 runners, walkers, and wheelchair rollers from 151 countries lined up at the starting line for the 2021 Wings for Life World Run, making it the largest ever running event in history. A total of nearly $5 million dollars was raised for spinal cord research through entry fees and donations. Sweden’s Aron Anderson (41.5 miles) won the men’s competition for the third time after victories in 2017 and 2018, while Russia’s Nina Zarina (37.4 miles) took her third consecutive title, following wins in 2019 and 2020. A total of 1,029,513 miles were completed by all the participants, the equivalent of running more than 41 times around the globe, by the time the virtual catcher car passed the final runner. The beauty of the Wings for Life World Run event format is that everyone completes the race with the moving finish line.

«I’m at a loss for words. The number of participants is so much bigger than what we dared to dream of. All I can say is thank you to each and every person who ran, walked or rolled with us today,» said Anita Gerhardter, global CEO of the non-profit foundation Wings for Life. «Together, we’ve celebrated life today and raised an incredible amount to help find a cure for spinal cord injury.» 

The eighth edition of the Wings for Life World Run was a spectacular event that not only brought the global running community together, but also had a lot to offer as a race. Some ran alone or in small, distanced groups; some across sun-scorched countries in central Europe, at times with snow-capped mountains in the background; while others were running along the ocean in the dawn or dusk hours; and one woman was even spotted running through tall grass in Africa as giraffes looked on. Weather conditions in the 151 countries varied enormously, from wind and rain in Chicago and Spain, to snowfall in Norway, and hot sunny weather in Greece.  

All participants started at exactly the same time around the globe at 11am UTC/7am EST/4am PST, just not at the same place. However, the runners and wheelchair users were connected virtually through the Wings for Life World Run App. That provided the basis for the special community experience that was enhanced with inspirational comments and messages from first-time celebrity voices Isaiah Mustafa as the main in-app race host, as well as Jane Lynch who voiced the driver of the virtual Catcher Car, which began pursuit as a moving finish line 30-minutes after the runners’ start. Participants also got to trot along to the sounds of singer,  songwriter, and rapper pineappleCITI and production duo The 87’s who collaborated on an original track dubbed «Phoenix«, which was the official anthem for the race with all proceeds from the song benefitting Wings for Life. Through the app, participants were able to experience that long-forgotten event feeling once again with thousands of others from across the globe. 

«I am thrilled to hear that over 180,000 people around the world came together today to run for a good cause,» said Jon Ridgeon, CEO of World Athletics and former world-class athlete for Britain in the 110-meter hurdles, who heard confirmation of the largest run ever while in Tokyo. «It’s fantastic that with intelligent solutions like a digital app, a global event such as the Wings for Life World Run can happen during these challenging times. It’s a ray of light for all runners and athletes around the world, and I hope more such events will happen in the future to give people an opportunity to continue with their active lifestyles during the pandemic.» 

From running novices to experienced ultra-runners, the starting field at the Wings for Life World Run was an eclectic mix of people. Anyone is eligible to enter. The unique race format makes it possible for runners, walkers, and wheelchair users with completely different ability levels to race together for a good cause. Since 2014, a grand total of 925,096 participants have taken part in the global charity run, 5,614,060 miles have been covered and $40.5 million dollars have been raised. 100% of all entry fees and donations go directly to spinal cord research. 

«For me, as a person with a spinal cord injury, it’s truly amazing and gratifying that over 180,000 people decided to participate in the Wings for Life World Run to help researchers come closer to finding a cure,» said three-time winner Anderson of Sweden. «The race brings so much joy to my heart, and I really love being a part of it. I want to express my thanks to all the other runners today, because they are all contributing to an important cause. So thank you to everyone!»  

The date for the ninth edition of the Wings for Life World Run has already been set. The next run will take place on May 8, 2022. Registration is already open. All results as well as information on how to register for the 2022 event can be found at

About Wings for Life Foundation and the Mission

Millions of people are currently dependent on a wheelchair after having sustained a spinal cord injury. Every year, at least 250,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury, followed by paralysis. That’s one person every two minutes. Scientists agree: injured neurons are able to regenerate, and spinal cord injury will be curable one day.

Wings for Life USA – Spinal Cord Research Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit foundation with a mission to find the cure for spinal cord injury. In order to realize its vision, Wings for Life supports world class scientific research and clinical trials aimed at healing the spinal cord. Since 2004, Wings for Life has funded 239 life-changing research projects and clinical trials around the globe, including 23 current projects plus 10 newly approved researched projects in the U.S.A. While the cure is still to be found, steady progress has been made.

Wings for Life guarantees that 100% of all donations are spent on spinal cord research, ensuring all monies raised will help work towards Wings for Life’s ultimate goal. To learn more or donate please go to

Cision View original content to download multimedia:

SOURCE Wings for Life World Run