Wings for Life World Run 2019: How SAP Helped the Runners Keep It Up

On May 5, the starting shot for the sixth Wings for Life World Run (WfLWR) was fired. For the first time, SAP was on site to give the runners a unique motivational boost.

To help participants run better, SAP came up with a special way to boost motivation. For the first time, the EmPulse Zone created by SAP was installed along the route for the WfLWR races in Munich, Germany; Sunrise, Florida, U.S.; and Taichung, Taiwan.

SAP and Wings for Life World Run 2019 Highlights

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SAP and Wings for Life World Run 2019 Highlights

Within the approximately 150-foot-long zone, passing runners were cheered on by short video messages from friends, relatives, and Red Bull athletes that were projected onto a large screen. A chip enabled the identification of a runner, automatically playing his or her motivational clip.

“This was such a great idea that I’m sure both motivated and inspired many of the participants while they were competing,” says WfLWR Sports Director Colin Jackson. “I can only imagine the joy and excitement when they heard their names mentioned or seeing loved ones on screen.”

Creativity and Motivation Unleashed

Since January 2019, family and friends had been able to upload their messages to a video portal through SAP Cloud Platform. Numerous motivating videos were uploaded and displayed throughout all three locations, giving runners a kick of enthusiasm to spur them on. In Munich alone, 12,000 runners were cheered on by their families and friends via the EmPulse Zone created by SAP. A mixture of extraordinary and very emotional clips were screened in the Bavarian capital. One runner even proposed to his girlfriend in the EmPulse Zone, displaying the video proposal on the LED screen while the couple was running toward it. Happy ending included; we are delighted to announce she said yes!

“We know how challenging it was for friends and family to get their message across in only 10 seconds. However, the results people came up with were often super creative and, most importantly, highly motivating,” says Lars Lamadé, responsible for Sports Sponsoring in Europe and Asia at SAP. “It was very stirring to see the reactions of the runners passing the EmPulse Zone and seeing the messages their friends and relatives had created for them. Most often, they smiled. Witnessing the immediate impact of the initiative was extremely gratifying.”

In Sunrise and Taichung, the initiative was also well received, with runners’ fan communities ranging from families to friends to office buddies. Whether funny, emotional, or enchanting short clips – greetings from work colleagues cheering up their co-workers or joyful baby greetings encouraging mothers and fathers – there was nothing missing.

This year’s WfLWR proved a huge success, with 120,000 runners worldwide participating in the races and raising donations of €3.5 million, showing once again what people can achieve when they support each other, and how technology can help make this support even better.

About the Wings for Life World Run

On one day each year, the Wings for Life World Run takes place simultaneously at numerous locations around the world, as well as through a corresponding app. It features a unique format in which participants run as far as they can while being chased along their route or virtually in the app by a “catcher car,” a moving finish line that keeps speeding up until it has caught up to every runner. This enables every athlete to finish the race; those on the slower side are overtaken early on, while the best of the best wind up running far more than a marathon. One hundred percent of the entrance fees and donations go toward efforts to heal spinal cord injuries. In the fifth iteration to have taken place since its debut in 2014, the Wings for Life World Run motivated more than 500,000 people from 193 nations to take part in over 66 countries on all seven continents.

About the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation

Millions of people around the world rely on wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries, which typically result from traffic accidents or serious falls. Wings for Life is a non-profit spinal cord research foundation focused on a single mission: finding a cure for injuries like these. Since 2004, it has funded life-changing research projects and clinical studies across the globe. Although it may still take some time to find an effective method of treatment, constant progress has been made – find out more at