Victor Kropp

Wings for Life World Run 2024

After the finish in the Olympiastadion

After the finish in the Olympiastadion

Last Sunday I took part in the Wings for Life World Run – a charity run to collect funds for spinal cord research. Under the motto “we run for those who can’t” a quarter-million of runners start all over the world at exact 11 UTC on the first Sunday of May since 2014.

I like this event for its unique formula: there is no finish line, your race ends when a catcher car overtakes you. It starts 30 minutes behind everyone, but quickly gains speed. So the faster you run, the further you can get.

The first run in Munich took place in 2015. I was in peak physical condition around that time, just run a marathon in Paris a few weeks before, so I managed to cover a pretty impressive 28¼ km.

Steady decline

Next year I missed the event, but I had a good reason for that, as I finished Ironman 70.3 Mallorca on the same day. I returned to Wings for Life in 2016 and completed 19.4 kilometres and from then onwards it all went downhill:

2017 19.40 km

2018 17.43 km

2019 17.42 km

I remember little from those runs, with the 2017 edition being a notable exception, though. And for a very bizarre reason: a horde of sheeps, donkeys and even a cow decided to join the movement and ran with us for a good kilometer or two. Of course, it was unplanned and unexpected. And even though it sounds funny, at one point I was a little bit scared running alongside a cow, because I had no idea what could happen.

Oh, and then pandemics 😷 happened. The flagship run in Munich was obviously canceled. Instead, everyone around the world ran from a virtual catcher car in their neighborhoods. That was an interesting experience, as I’ve met around 5 to 7 other runners participating in the event, and we cheered each other, while keeping a social distance of 1.5 metres between us.

The story repeated itself in 2021, and I’m glad it was the last time so. Due to the absolute lack of training, I’ve managed to run only 10 or so kilometers and then walk for another kilometer before a virtual catcher reached me.

It wasn’t a result I could be proud of. I was crushed and ashamed. I was so frustrated that I skipped the run altogether the next year. For the first time ever. Sigh.

I continued running very irregularly, sometimes skipping months of training and never ran more than 7 kilometers. Wings for Life World Run 2023 was even shorter than 2021 for me.

That could have been an end. And indeed, I again stopped running for many months.

Lignano Sabbiadoro

Up until our vacation in a lovely Lignano Sabbiadoro in Italy last summer. One evening, my wife asked me if I wanted to go for a run. I hesitated a bit, but she insisted and I went out.

Lignano Pineta

Lignano Pineta

And what a run it turned out! Beautiful pine forest, nice houses, beach, lighthouse, sunset and thunderstorms on the horizon.

I was pumped and decided not to skip any runs anymore. So I started running regularly once again. Oh, how I enjoyed it.

I started slowly, but soon was confident enough to increase the distance. I ran 10 kilometers and wasn’t dying. Then twelve, then fifteen… And then I decided to register for Wings for Life World Run.

2024 edition

My goal this year was to run a half-marathon distance, which I would need to run in 1 hour 55 minutes according to the distance calculator, prepared by organizers.

I started in the second group (out of four), and lost 2 minutes even before I crossed the start line. Another minute or so I spent in a traditional traffic jam right after the start, where the narrow bridge almost stops the crowd of runners.

Well, I thought, that means I now need to pick up the pace and run 10–20 seconds faster per kilometer than planned. It started raining right there, it helped to cool down, and didn’t slow me at all. Even better, it allowed me to skip the first three water stations.

I was enjoying my run as I caught half-marathon pacemakers I’ve briefly seen in front of the pack. I rested a few kilometers behind their backs, only to continue my own run ahead of them.

Meanwhile, the rain ended and the sun came out. And I had just enough strength left in my legs to finish strong. It was my second-best result at this event, I reached my goal, and I’m absolutely satisfied and relieved.

Next up: Munich Marathon in October.

This is post 2 of #100DaysToOffload


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