This year's Croatian chapter of the internationally renowned humanitarian race, Wings for Life, was held in Zadar, as was previous years, on Sunday, May the 7th and it drew a big crowd of around 6.500 participants. Also, this was a jubilee year, as this edition was the 10th edition of Wings for Life!
Even though members of our internal running Club, Serengeti Runners, were active all along the year - as there were already some races in Croatia (Pakoštane Trail, 100 Miles of Istria) and Serbia (Kruševac semi-marathon) - we can say that Wings for Life is one of the key events for every passionate runner in region.
Regarding the race itself, the principle was the same as always – there isn't any finish line, but instead, there is a catcher-interceptor car that catches runners. Celebrated Croatia rally driver and TV host, Juraj Šebalj, drove that car.
The race started simultaneously on seven official races (and 240 with the help of a mobile application), at 1 PM and half an hour later, the car start at a speed of 14km/h. Every 30 minutes, the car speeds up by 1km/h, and after two hours, its speed is increased by 4km/h. The car then slowly reaches the majority of contestants and when the interceptor car reaches the last racer, the race is over. The interceptor car does not just capture runners, the car also cheers them on and tries to help runners achieve a few more meters before they catch up to them.
Some facts regarding the race were breathtaking – the oldest participant was Mr. Roko Andabaka, a 91-year-old Runner! Winners of the Croatian edition were Tomasz Osmulski from Poland (50 kilometers) and Nataša Šustić, who covered 46 kilometers. A fun fact was that Nataša is a sister of Nikolina Šustić, the 5-times winner of the race, who finished second this time!
As per participants who raced in their superhero wheelchairs, the winners were Marija Nikoleta Divanović (11 kilometers) and Ante Kolundžija (22 kilometers). Special cheers to them. In terms of the global race, the winner in the male competition was Jo Fukunda (69 kilometers) and in the female, it was Kasia Szkoda (55 kilometers). Congratulations to them, and all of 206 733 participants!
Serengeti Runners were represented by nine (ten if you count online competition) of our almost 40-people-strong running collective! Big ups to every one of them – Saša Barišić, Helena Bižić, David Dolački, Ivan Kozić, Dubravko Martinić, Mia Mihaljević, Ivan Milas, Patrik Soldo and Serengeti Runners good-spirit & captain, Zoran Šljivić. Our colleague, who is currently on maternity leave, Nikolina Tkalec, participated in the race online.
Even though climate conditions were rather harsh, as it is almost always sunny in beautiful Zadar, this time it was maybe a little bit too sunny! Luckily, we equipped our Runners team with some juicy branded stuff like a new batch of T-shirts, buffs, caps, and practical little bags around the waist.
Let's hear what some of them had to say about their Wings for Life experience:
Patrik Soldo, Account Manager:
„As this was my first Wings for Life race, I can say that the impressions are very positive. The race is humanitarian, where all funds from advance payments go to the research of spinal cord injuries which is rather motivational, in a way. As per location, the race is organized in one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia, the city of Zadar, which leaves every person breathless with its historic core and beautiful beaches. Every person who started was full of positive energy, whereas the people who are in wheelchairs also participated in the race and who, when you see them, push you to give your last atom of strength to achieve the best possible result. You just say to yourself that, if they can do it, I can do another push, too. We should certainly praise the audience itself, which is with the runners along the entire course, and cheers non-stop, which is another added incentive to do your best in very difficult running conditions with a temperature of 25 degrees. In the end, I would say that I will participate next year if I am able and I would recommend everyone to participate, because first of all they are doing a good job, and thus they are testing and pushing their limits. Every step forward from your comfort zone is a step forward in defeating your fears. 😊“
Saša Barišić, Mid Software Developer:
„Positive energy and good fun indeed. Regarding the race itself, this year it was too hot to run on the asphalt. But still, my score was better for around 500 meters than it was last year. 😊“