Wings for Life World Run 2024: a record-shattering 265,818 participants raised 8.1 million euros!

Dancing. Mariachi bands. Cheers and happy tears. The 11th Wings for Life World Run saw just about every kind of celebration imaginable, and for good reason: Over a quarter million participants re-confirmed the event’s status as the largest running event in the world. And more importantly, if you were one of those runners, you helped to raise a phenomenal event record of 8,104,499 euros, 100% of which will go to vital research and clinical trials to find a cure for spinal cord injury.

Dr. Joshua Burda of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, USA, is one of the researchers whose work is supported by funds raised in the Wings for Life World Run. Expressing his gratitude, he said, “Thank you so much for being part of this global movement, allowing me to continue my important research toward a cure for spinal cord injury. Because of you and your involvement, we can continue giving hope to those with spinal cord injury and their families.”

Over a quarter of a million strong, this year’s participants included 192 nationalities as they set off simultaneously in 169 countries to keep ahead of the iconic Catcher Car. Together they managed an impressive average of 11.5km each, for a total distance equivalent to nearly 50 times around the globe!

Many of the runners, wheelchair users, joggers and walkers took part in an App Run Event – there were 345 in all (yet another event record), including spectacular locations from Mexico City to Paris, and from Miami to Dubai.

No matter where they took part, Wings for Life World Runners didn’t seem to mind the weather: According to the official race weather forecaster, UBIMET, the coldest temperature recorded was in Quebec City, Canada (5°C) and the hottest in Lucknow, India (41°C); while the sunniest runs were experienced in Zadar, Croatia and Cape Town, South Africa, and the wettest in San Francisco, USA.

As always, part of the thrill was the motivation from the celebrity Catcher Car drivers like two-time Olympic snowboard champion Anna Gasser and ski jumping legend Adam Małysz at the Flagship Runs in Vienna and Poznań, and Virtual Catcher Car drivers including basketball’s Gigi Datome (ITA) and triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) in the Audio Experience of the Wings for Life World Run App.

Many big names were running themselves, such as Greek tennis pro Stefanos Tsitsipas, who participated with the App as part of his training in Monte Carlo. Just a few of the other stars who were helping to find a cure for spinal cord injury with their support for the run included football’s Neymar Jr (BRA), rugby’s Siya Kolisi (RSA), MotoGP’s Marc Márquez (ESP) and Dani Pedrosa (ESP), surfing’s Carissa Moore (USA), cycling’s Wout van Aert (BEL), cricket’s Ben Stokes (GBR), skiing’s Lindsey Vonn (USA) and Lucas Pinheiro Braathen (NOR/BRA), and hurdler Karsten Warholm (NOR).

On the sporting side, still another record fell. When Japan’s Jo Fukuda, who had been the men’s winner in the past two outings, failed to find the pace, his countryman Tomoya Watanabe made his own mark for Japan at the App Run Event in Fukuoka. After surpassing second place Guillaume Ruel of France and third place Valentin Poncelet of Belgium, Watanabe found yet another gear to achieve 70.09km, breaking the all-time record for the event and also becoming the first ever to pass the 70km mark.

“We started the race at a fast pace – the leading group was really, really fast – but that kept me going. Wanting to beat the record was a big motivation also. Winning this race today means a lot to me, and I will keep running and be ready for the event next year!”  – Tomoya Watanabe

The women’s competition saw a thrilling showdown between long-time sporting rivals Dominika Stelmach of Poland and Nataša Šustić of Croatia, as well as eventual third place finisher Ingalena Schömburg-Heuck of Germany. In a remarkable return to the top despite rain and heat at the Flagship Run Poznań, Stelmach – who was women’s Global Champion back in 2017 – kept pushing even after Šustić finished to claim her second win and a new personal best of 55.02km.

“Today I did it for those who cannot run, and also for those who don’t believe in themselves, because it’s very important to be strong.”   – Dominika Stelmach

In the end, all the day’s joyous experiences resulted in these exciting new figures: Since the first Wings for Life World Run in 2014, a total of 1,559,534 Wings for Life World Run participants have now raised a total of 51.93 million euros, funding 299 promising research projects and clinical trials so far!

Wings for Life CEO Anita Gerhardter was overwhelmed, saying, “When people join forces, incredible things happen! Together, we have the power to rewrite medical history and find a cure for spinal cord injury. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone – World Runners, to the team and all volunteers and partners – who helped to create magic today. If you enjoyed the Wings for Life World Run as much as I did, I hope to see you at the start line again on May 4, 2025.”

That’s right! The 12th edition of the Wings for Life World Run will take place on May 4, 2025. Registration to run with the App is already open now, and registration to run at specific App Run Event and Flagship Run locations will open on November 6, 2024.

You can receive notifications – and register – right here at