Pre-race, Lukas forgets the chronic shin splints and wonders if he overdid the carb loading.
Pre-race, Lukas forgets the chronic shin splints and wonders if he overdid the carb loading.

Livestock in Germany displayed remarkable stamina and gave charity runners in Germany a helping hand recently.

More than 600 sheep gatecrashed the Wings for Life Charity Run in Munich. The fitness conscious sheep  were joined by a smattering of goats, at least one cow and a rumored donkey.

Wings for Life is an international not-for-profit foundation with only one goal – to aid the scientific community in finding a cure for spinal cord injury.

What is a Catcher Car?

There are a number of factors that make a Wings for Life run unique in the packed annual diary of charity runs.

Firstly there is no set finish line for runners. The race is run along the principle of a ‘moving finish line’ using a ‘catcher car’.

Runners get a 30 minute head start and then the catcher car begins to chase the competitors. If the catcher car passes you, then it’s race over, you’ve been knocked out!

As the race progresses the catcher car ratchets up the pressure on contestants by gradually increasing speed. The catcher car starts out at 15km/hr, increasing to 16, 17, 20 and 35 kph at hourly intervals. The race is considered finished when the final participant has been passed.

Who drives the catcher car?

In another twist the catcher cars are driven by a celebrity or inspirational figures in the local community.

Notable catcher car drivers have included: Carlos Sainz (Formula 1), David Coulthard (Formula 1), Reini Sampl (Skiing), Henrik Kristoffersen (Skiing), Rafa Márquez (Football) and  Max Verstappen (Formula 1).

Synchronised start time

This year the Wings For Life run attracted 155,288 participants worldwide. To foster a spirit of unity race organizers opted to have a global synchronized start time for the race.

Starting at 11AM (UTC) runners hot tailed it from the catcher car in 111 locations around the world.

The global champion this year was Swede Aron Anderson (92.1km) in the male category and Polish athlete Dominika Stelmach (68.21km) in the female category.

Sheep foil Catcher Car

With the addition of 600 sheep, the 8,000 Munich runners were inadvertently given a helping hand this year. The Catcher Car was impeded in it’s pursuit attempts by the unwitting livestock until police were able to round up the animals in the Allach district.

Lucky fundraisers were able to run further due to the interfering sheep and raise more money for their chosen causes.

Not Baaa-d

Overall, runners and sheep managed to raise an impressive $7.4 million for research into spinal cord injuries.

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