On 8 May, the international fund-raising event, Wings for Life World Run, to support the study of spinal cord trauma was held in Kolomna (Moscow region). Among the participants of the event were students of Voronezh State University – 11 university sportsmen ran together with the rest of the world.
Ready, steady, go!
At 14.00 sharp (Moscow time) over 130,000 runners started simultaneously on 34 tracks in 33 countries on 6 continents. In Kolomna among the 1,500 runners were Nikolay Sereda – the vice-head of the Student Affairs and Social Development Department of Voronezh State University, Dmitry Serebryakov, Svyatoslav Gubanov, and Anna Bukhtoyarova – students from the Faculty of Philosophy and Psychology, Dmitry Zherebiatiev – a student from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Informatics, and Mechanics, Irina Kovalenko – a student from the Faculty of International Relations, Sergey Kior – a student from the Faculty of Economics, Alexandra Afanasieva and Konstantin Pavluchenko – students from the Faculty of Geography, Geoecology, and Tourism, and Dmitry Birukov – a student from the Faculty of Law. The members of the Voronezh team also included Artem Silchenko – the cliff-diving world champion. The participation of the Voronezh team in the world run was initiated by students from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Informatics, and Mechanics, Sergey Fursov and Valery Popov who also accompanied the Voronezh team on the track.
The distinguishing feature of the Wings for Life World Run is that it has no finish line. Participants choose the speed and the distance themselves – thus they try to achieve the goals they set for themselves and compete with themselves. Every runner tries to cover the distance they chose for themselves until a catcher car draws level with them. A catcher car is a car with a special reader element. Catcher cars start moving simultaneously on all tracks 30 minutes after the start. As soon as the catcher car reaches the runner it means the end of the race for them.
The total distance covered by the VSU team was 158 kilometres. The best result among men belonged to Konstantin Pavluchenko who covered 35.8 kilometres and the best runner among women was Alexandra Afanasieva who covered 24 kilometres.
Participants speak about the Wings for Life World Run
VSU students shared their impressions of the event. Many of them participated in such a run for the first time. However, others, for example Dmitry Birukov, were more experienced. Dmitry Birukov told us about his decision to participate and his results from the previous year.
'I think it was a wonderful idea to organise the run. It is always very impressive when a lot of people do something nice for other people. And in this case it is also beneficial for the health of the participants. The Wings For Life World Run is a very positive event that will be remembered by every runner. I took up running over a year ago. However, I have had the chance to train regularly only in spring and autumn. In February 2015, I learnt that the Wings For Life World Run was going to be held in Russia. Then I decided to challenge myself and to make my contribution to the research of spinal cord trauma. Last year, I managed to run 19 kilometres. Even though my result this year was worse (minus 1.5 kilometres) I am absolutely happy with it. I think I was better prepared this year. However the track was more difficult and the weather was quite hot. We should also remember that this run is the kind of event when participation is more important than the result. When I took part in the first Wings For Life World Run that was held in Russia on 3 May 2015 I already knew that on 8 May 2106 I would be in Kolomna among other sport lovers. And next year I hope to be there again.'
Konstantin Pavluchenko who had the best result among the men of the Voronezh team is a regular participant of running marathons. The Wings for Life World Run was another sport goal that he successfully achieved.
'I am fully satisfied with my result. I was planning to cover 33–38 kilometres and I did 35.8. It was very hot, the track went uphill and downhill and it affected the speed a lot. I think it was one of the most difficult races I've tried. I have been into running since I was a schoolboy and usually I ran medium-length distances. Two years ago, I decided to try long distances. In September 2014, I ran my first marathon in Moscow and in June 2015, in Saint Petersburg. I am also planning to take part in the Moscow marathon that will be held in June 2016. I ran semi-marathons several times and on 1 May 2016, I took second place in one of them. I don’t have a coach and make my running programmes on my own. Running is growing more popular each year. More and more people take part in different runs and races. I liked the idea of organising a fund-raising run to help people. The money raised during the Wings for Life World Run will help make new discoveries in treatment of spinal cord trauma.'
The run provided motivation for Nikolay Sereda to improve his personal result next year. He told us how a student initiative to participate in such a large-scale event came true.
'The VSU team has shown that a good cause can be followed in many ways. Different people have different abilities but everyone can make their own contribution. The best way to publicize a problem is by doing something personally or better with a team of friends. The Joint Students' Board and VSU are ready to support students in such initiatives. Now we have a new challenge for future runs – we want to cover 500 kilometres. I hope that next year there will be more representatives from our university and together we can achieve this goal. When preparing for the run we could see how cooperation between students and the university administration works. The students' initiative received support and assistance. Together we are ready to solve problems and tasks set for us and for society as a whole. I am satisfied with my result on the Wings for Life World Run. Though I know that I can run longer distances. I decided to take part in the run just a few days before the event. I have been riding a bicycle for four years, though not for very long distances – up to several hundred kilometres. Now I have a reason to take up running to achieve my goal of 20 kilometres next year.