What are you doing at 9pm on Mother’s Day? 

Spare a thought for over 3,000 Australians who will commence a run in synchronisation with more than 100,000 other athletes from 34 locations around the world, across 6 continents. 

Australian participants will congregate in Hawthorn ready for their start in the third edition of the Wings for Life World Run.

So what, you may ask? 

The Australian leg of this one of a kind event is being organised by AFL boundary umpire, Chris Esler, who is the campaign manager. 

When we caught up with Chris you could see the passion etched in his face as he delivered a very simple message, “research into spinal cord injury that impacts many people worldwide is grossly underfunded.  By participating in this run you will be contributing in a very significant way to the research in finding a cure for this horrific condition.”

Our association has not been immune to this condition, generally as a result of a tragic accident.  Former umpiring great the late Don Jolley became a quadriplegic and former members Michael Forbes and Ian Huntington have suffered spinal cord injuries as a result of accidents.  More recently, Jordan Bannister’s brother Ricky was also severely injured in a horse riding accident 2 years prior to his passing.

The driving forces behind the Wings for Life foundation are two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner and the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz. In 2003, Kinigadner’s son Hannes had a tragic accident which left him tetraplegic. 

Kinigadner and Mateschitz soon realised that research into spinal cord injury was underfunded. Paralysis is not considered a widespread condition and therefore investing millions in research to help a relatively small number of people was generally considered an unprofitable endeavour.

This realisation prompted Kinigadner and Mateschitz to set up the Wings for Life research foundation – with the goal of finding ways to cure all people affected.

One of the many things that makes the Wings for Life foundation remarkable, is that 100% of all donations go to spinal cord research projects (as all administrative costs of the foundation are covered by Red Bull).

The Wings for Life World Run is a truly global event – more than 100,000 participants take off in 34 locations around the world at exactly the same time.

The race with no finish line returns to Melbourne on Sunday, 8 May, 2016 at 21:00 AEST. 

In a one of a kind event, participants take off 30 minutes in front of the Catcher Cars and run, walk, jog or roll as far as they can before being caught.

How far do you think you could make it? Take a look at the handy Goal Calculator and see how far you can run to make spinal cord injury curable. 100% of the registration fee goes to spinal cord injury research.

For the first time ever, an early bird offer is available (ends soon) – register now for $55.

Your registration fee entitles you to a race pack including a PUMA technical race t-shirt (RRP$35), a LED LENSER NEO headlamp (RRP$47) and more!

The AFLUA have set up a team for the event, and ask you to register, join the team, share it with your friends, family and colleagues and help run for those who can’t.

The following link will take you to the team page where you can join, otherwise, you can just search ‘AFL Umpires Association’ in the search box.


To see how the race works, have a look at this video.

Chris fully intends to run and use the event as his recovery run following his AFL game on either the Friday or Saturday.  “My recovery run is usually about 10km’s so I will see how I go, I’m wanting to help my mum and girlfriend run their first ever half-marathon though.”

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