Wings For Life World Run logoSunrise, Fla. — Who would have thought that a taut, elbow-to-elbow tussle would determine the outcome in a race of over five hours, nearly 50 miles and 13 time zones?  But, indeed, that is how the 1st annual Wings For Life World Run came down today as Ethiopia’s Lemawork Ketama sprinted past Ukraine’s Evgenii Glyva as the Catcher Car finish line bore down on the two runners in Donautal, Austria, one of 34 cities on six continents that simultaneously hosted the uniquely formatted, no-set-distance, no-set-finish-line run to raise awareness for spinal cord injury research.

In the end, Ketama notched 78.57 kilometers (48+ miles) over 5:01;48 before being overtaken by the Catcher Car, the de facto finish line, in an event determined by distance not time. Evgenii Glyva was caught 28-seconds earlier after 78.40 km.  Hard as it may be to believe, another runner in Peru, Remigo Huaman Quispe, actually wedged in between the two Austrian-based runners in total distance to claim second place world-wide at 78.48 km.

In Stavanger, Norway Elise Selvikvag Molvik won the women’s global title in a less contested run of 54.79 kilometers (34+ miles).

In all 35,397 runners from 164 nations around the globe began simultaneously in 32 countries at 10 UTC (6 a.m. eastern in the U.S.). The goal was to run as far as you could before being overtaken by the Wings For Life Catcher Cars, as each runner’s race would end when they got caught by the catcher car which began chasing down the runners a half-hour after the event’s start.  Therefore, the last man and woman running before being caught would be the champions.

Ethiopia's Lemawork Ketama pulls away from Ukraine's Evgenii Glyva

Ethiopia’s Lemawork Ketama pulls away from Ukraine’s Evgenii Glyva after 5 hours as the Catcher Car finish line arrived alongside in Austria.

In a wild finish in Donautal, Austria, Ukraine’s Evgenii Glyva, sensing the Ethiopian Ketama was just waiting to pounce as the Catcher Car bore down on them after 48 miles of continuous running, first tried to run his opponent off the road, then in a last ditch effort to hold onto the lead, threw a nasty elbow at his opponent as Ketema accelerated to pass.  The move was in evident frustration at Glyva having done so much of the leading only to lose out to a faster man in the final few strides.  Continue reading