„One day, one message, one goal. To inspire people all over the world to do something good, no matter how big or small, for someone else.“
How to describe something that never existed until yesterday? How to find words for something so big and strong, bigger than any individual by himself? For strength, kindness and empathy that human race has?…
Welcome to the story about 35397 souls that yesterday gave their everything to collect kilometers all around the world. We did it because we have the gift to be able to do it, for those who cannot. Ten kilometers or seventy, it doesn’t matter, yesterday the whole world was united in running for one amazing cause – to raise money for spinal cord injury research.
I can’t really remember now when did I exactly decide that I have to run this race, but at the point I did, I already knew I will be out of Croatia, and I knew that Poznań is my other option. Now when I think about it, I think at that time I didn’t have even a close idea of how huge will this event actually be, how high and how far it will reach. Now I know and I want to give my all to spread the word about it, for people to know how amazing human race is and how much we can achieve if we stay together.
Since I currently live in Łódź, going to Wings For Life World Run in Poznań gave me a great opportunity to travel a bit. After visiting cold, but beautiful Wrocław on Friday, our next stop was windy, but sunny Poznań on Saturday. My usual, positive nervousness, the one that happens before any race I run, this time was very unusual, a completely new type for me. Even though I did everything as I do it usually – carbohydrates the day or two before running, lots of water, trying to get enough sleep – there was something I couldn’t predict as usually. What? The distance and time.
I started to run two and a half years ago, and after 8 half marathons, 6 marathons and 2 ultramarathons, I thought that it is almost impossible to surprise me so much with a race. But still, never in my life could I imagine that one day I will be running away from a moving finish line, hoping to stay in front of it as long as possible. And I did!
The evening before the race I checked my possible result with an online calculator, and the final decision was to try to run between 20 and 23 kilometers. But actually, all I wanted is to enjoy these moments and hours and to be highly aware that every part of the world is right now doing the same. Kilometers didn’t matter, all that mattered is people to realize how lucky they are to be able to run and to dedicate it to helping those who can’t.
So for the first time in my life, I decided to take my phone with me while running, because I wanted to have a record of these moments and these people. Wonderful Dasha and Julia were with me the whole time before start, supporting me and wishing me luck. After separating from them, I did a walk around starting boxes, filming people and atmosphere, and then I found my own starting box. Jumping and warming up, smiling to people, people smiling to me… And all of a sudden, the anchors on the stage encouraged the runners to start singing, and they did, all of them like one – Polska biało-czerwoni (Poland, white and red). I got goosebumps!
The huge video wall was showing amazing live frames from all over the world. Night, day, rain, sun… The countdown clock was getting closer and closer to zero and soon we started. Loud start and laughter in the air… And then, after the first impression, I finally started to think – where am I going? How far? There is no defined finish line… It was a strange, but good feeling when after half an hour I realized that the Catcher Car now started to follow us and we are racing against it 🙂
I generally started too fast and I couldn’t make myself slow down because the feeling was beyond perfect. I even knew that it will make me slow down later, but it’s okay because I would still have enough time to cross the mark for 20th kilometer. People around me were awesome. A brother and sister with shirts that have „Bro“ and „Sis“ on their back; a guy with „Pain is temporary“ on his back; couples, groups of friends, young people, old people, fantastic atmosphere; I was trying to feel every part of it.
From time to time I would take a photo or record a video with my phone (that is far from easy while you’re running 5:12 min/km!) because people were in such a good mood and it was impossible not to live through it. Some people were slowing down, some were walking… I kept in mind that no pain is eternal and no matter how slow anyone of us gets, we are still blessed with this so simple gift of running.
The perfection of the whole run started to happen as the time was getting closer to 2 hours of running, because I knew that the car is getting closer to me and will catch me soon. I even called Julia after crossing 20 kilometers to tell her I’m feeling great. The atmosphere became kind of hectic, people starting to speed up, cheering for each other, and even though it was hard to film this, I tried to do it the best way I could 🙂 Prior to arrival of Catcher Car, a smaller car and a few guys on bicycles were driving beside us, screaming to hurry up, to sprint, to do the best we can now, telling us we still have some short time… People were screaming of excitement, many of them running as fast as possible, and close to the 23 kilometer mark, a Catcher Car was on our left side.
I stopped, and as in every long race finish, I was crying. Happiness. On my left arm I had Darijo‘s name written. I did it for him. His life ended in a blink of an eye in 2011, too early, and I know he would also run for those who can’t if he was still with us. The guys who ended the same time I did were filming a video and, as they realized I’m not Polish, asked me how am I feeling. After a short conversation, they told me I’m great and I told them the same thing, and I headed to the bus that was waiting for us.
It’s always a bit blurry for me to remember this period right after the race. I’m always in a special mood, my mind always works a bit different than usually… So I was just soaking this feeling, happiness of runners around me, chatting about how they felt. The whole organization of event was flawless, so in the bus we received bottles of water and a foil wrap to keep us warm. I was still half laughing and half crying… I guess I will never learn how to deal with these feelings in any different way 🙂
And then, arrival to the starting point again. People cheering for us on the side, and we are running to get our medals. Then I saw Julia and Dasha with my flag and I felt complete. Few seconds later a medal was around my neck, and right after that I got two huge hugs from girls; I don’t know if there is a way to emphasize enough how much does their support mean to me!
To conclude this story… What Wings For Life & Red Bull did yesterday is beyond my ability to describe it. The whole world was one, and we all gave in our energy, ability and strength to be like one for those who need our biggest support. I strongly and truly believe that this mission will succeed, that spinal cord injury research will give results and that the world will still unite whenever it’s necessary to do something good for someone in need. There weren’t many situations when I believed in human race as much as I did yesterday. Now I know everything is possible, now I know how big the power of human heart is.
Huge thanks to everyone included in organization of Wings For Life World Run, to everyone running it – especially to my very good friends running in Zadar in Croatia, to everyone supporting it, to everyone who supported me from any part of Europe, to everyone who yesterday opened their eyes at least a bit more and realized how lucky we are to have our health and to have each other. Think about it every now and then, you will be more thankful for everything you have in your life!
Also, this is my own promise that through my whole life I will continue to invest my own energy, passion and time to helping other people. That is what I did so far and it will never, ever stop!
„In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” — not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power — the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.“ (Charlie Chaplin)