This is how ‘running for those who can’t’ became a virtual reality
© Jung von Matt/SPORTS GmbH/Red Bull Content Pool
When Michael Wiese wasn’t able to run Wings for Life World Run himself, he and Munich runner Moritz auf der Heide found a unique solution using VR technology, with incredibly heartwarming results.
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‘Running for those who can’t’ is the motto of Wings for Life World Run, the mass-participation running event that’s raised millions for spinal cord injury research and which returns on May 5, 2019 for its sixth edition.
In 2017, two athletes decided to take that motto literally, with the help of virtual reality. Accomplished German long-distance runner Moritz auf der Heide would strap on a 360º camera at the Munich edition of Wings for Life World Run and Michael Wiese would put on a VR headset at the same time in his home in Hamburg, nearly 800km away.
Michael himself is a veteran of triathlons and events like Tough Mudder. But a freak accident jumping into a giant ball left him paraplegic, and instead his life became one of enduring hospital stays and not endurance events.
Watch more of Michael’s story and what happened next in the below player.
Michael Wiese follows Moritz auf der Heide's run with VR in I Run VR You
As Moritz runs, Michael is able to follow his every move. From his long-distance vantage point on a sofa, Michael himself warns Moritz that the Catcher Car, the unique ‘moving finishing line’ of Wings for Life World Run that passes runners and brings their race to an end, is approaching.
I was able to experience a 30km run today, and soon I’ll manage the first by myself
There are emotional moments and surprises, a herd of sheep and a brass band, all seen through Moritz’s eyes and his friend’s at the same time.
Thanks to Wings for Life World Run, Moritz auf der Heide and the magic of VR, Michael Wiese’s emotions of running and finishing a race in style come flooding back. “I was able to experience a 30km run today,” says Michael, “and soon I’ll manage the first by myself.”