World Runners: A Reunion Years in the Making

“We’ll be carrying the message that we are winning in our project of ending hunger and starvation. It is being done.” 

The History of the World Runners

The World Runners International Foundation was founded in 1978 and its purpose was to dispel myths and raise awareness and funds to end hunger “step by step” through the sport of running. Over fifteen years, World Runners raised $6.5 million for organizations working to end hunger and poverty. Its success was built on a network of personal relationships, established by members from every state in the U.S. and over 50 countries.

Over the course of a decade, thousands of runners and their supporters around the world (18,000 runners in 13 countries at its peak) enrolled in the movement and raised over $7M. Highlights include the Moscow International Peace Marathons; Save the Children Relays; Boston, Oakland, and New York marathons; and hundreds of other large and small events.

Winning a Transcontinental Relay

Carrying the message of “End World Hunger”, World Runners successfully completed a non-stop, 22-day running relay from Santa Rosa, via San Francisco, to the United Nations in New York City — arriving on July 4th, 1982. States and cities gave proclamations of support, local runners joined all across the country, and funds were raised. The relay garnered significant media attention, resulting in a million people hearing the World Runners message.

Flash forward 40 years after completing the transcontinental relay, the original World Runners have reunited once again to honor the legacy of their work, and to ensure their message continues to move forward through the work of Global Partners for Development. It was a nostalgic afternoon of catching up with friends, old and new, reminiscing of what they, together, have achieved, and looking forward to what, through the work of Global Partners, will be accomplished. 

“I feel lucky to have been a part of this because it’s always been, the Transcontinental Relay, a team effort,” says Peter Verbiscar-Brown. “Up to a few years ago, we likely positively affected the lives of 3 million people [through] clean water, sanitation, access to cows, and education.” Through Global Partners, World Runners continues to make an impact in the livelihoods of East Africans, expanding on the original mission and more. GPFD’s Grassroots Community-Led Development Fund is supporting East African organizations who are implementing sustainable, impactful, and innovative solutions to public health and educational challenges in their own communities—advancing the original vision of World Runners forward.

100 years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in my bank account nor what my clothes looked like, but the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” -Forest Witcraft 

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