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The Vitality Running World Cup, a global five week running competition, launches officially in partnership with UNICEF
The Vitality Running World Cup, a global five week running competition, launches officially in partnership with UNICEF

Press release -

Vitality calls on every South African to run for their country and by doing so, help vaccinate children

  • Global, free-to-enter running competition open to all South Africans launches in Johannesburg, led by Wayde van Niekerk, and around the world in 180 countries.
  • In partnership with UNICEF, Vitality aims to vaccinate one million children against deadly diseases, by donating vaccines on behalf of participants who complete their weekly runs.
  • Every participant will also receive a digital goodie bag valued at $100 after the first qualifying run they complete during 5 – 11 March. Plus, they will stand a chance to win amazing weekly prizes as well as a grand prize.

Participants do not need to be Vitality members or Discovery clients and registrations are open throughout the tournament

The inaugural Vitality Running World Cup was officially launched in Johannesburg and and around the world today. In the context of physical inactivity being the fourth leading risk factor for chronic diseases of lifestyle, accounting for around five million related deaths each year, Vitality is encouraging people to get more active, and improve their health with an exciting five-week global running competition. The Vitality Running World Cup encourages citizens to run for their country, with the chance to win amazing weekly prizes.

It’s free and easy to participate. Anyone over the age of 13 can take part by running at least three kilometres in 30 minutes or less each week between 5 March and 5 April. Each qualifying run contributes to their country’s total kilometres, and the country with the greatest distance covered relative to their eligible population, wins.

Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Vitality explains that the aim of the event is to encourage physical activity worldwide, to improve health outcomes. “The Vitality Running World Cup is an exciting, yet simple and accessible mass-participation event aimed at addressing a global issue – that we need to move more,” she said.

South African athletics icon and captain for the country during the Vitality Running World Cup, Wayde Van Niekerk says, “I’m excited to be captaining South Africa for the cup, and to have the opportunity to encourage all South Africans to run with me, for our country. The competition gives everyone, regardless of their level of running, the chance to get moving. Together, we can make SA fitter and healthier.”

As the world’s largest behaviour-change platform linked to insurance, Vitality uses incentives and partnerships to influence and positively change people’s behaviour, in particular around physical activity. The Vitality Running World Cup is part of Vitality’s ambitious commitment to encourage 100 million people to get 20% more active by 2025.

“Our research shows exercise can have a significant long term effect on people’s health and is influential in triggering other healthier behaviours, like encouraging people to improve their eating habits,” explains Mabunda.

Vitality data shows that runners have a 9% lower chance developing chronic illnesses and 4% lower chance of contracting diabetes. In addition, non-runners experience on average, three more days in hospital than regular runners per admission.

“Apart from the health impact, physical inactivity has a real economic impact. Our recent 23-country study, done in partnership with RAND Europe, shows that if the inactive population walked ±20 min a day, the world economy would gain $220bn annually, the individual 2.5 years of life and business five additional productive days a year. In SA for instance, fitter people could lead to a fitter SA economy with potential growth of $500 million (+R7 billion) a year. This can be achieved by keeping the economically active population healthier,” Mabunda said.

The economic improvement arises from lower mortality rates (more people alive and contributing to the economy), reduced absenteeism, and lower presenteeism, driven largely by the impact of physical activity on health.

A recent study also found that running just 50 minutes per week reduces the likelihood of people dying by 27% and reduces the likelihood of them developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and depression, as well as cancer by 23% and heart disease by 41%.

UNICEF partnership for the greater good

Another facet to the event which multiplies the social impact for runners, is a partnership between Vitality and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) that can positively impact the lives of a million children around the world. As runners complete their weekly goals on their Running World Cup app, Vitality will donate a vaccine to a child in need via UNICEF.

The partnership is built on Vitality’s shared-value model which links personal health to the health of society.

UNICEF provides vaccines to immunise almost half of the world’s children against preventable diseases and supports immunisation programmes in over 95 countries to keep children safe.

Dr Mariame Sylla, Chief of Health and Nutrition for UNICEF in South Africa adds: “Immunisation is one of the most effective ways to protect children against potentially deadly diseases. It’s imperative that we achieve and sustain high vaccination coverage in every district to stop outbreaks of preventable diseases, eliminate measles and rubella, and deliver on our promise of ensuring a world where every child reaches their full potential in health and wellbeing.”



Discovery information

About Discovery

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, exported to over 19 countries and reaching over 11 million members. Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, with a market cap of $7 billion.

Follow us on Twitter @Discovery_SA

About Vitality

Vitality is the largest platform for behaviour change globally, underpinning the insurance products of 14 leading global insurers, with more than sixteen million members in 23 countries. It is a leading behaviour-change programme that underpins insurance and financial services, creating shared value by combining behavioural economics and clinical science to encourage and reward members for exercising more, eat healthier, manage stress, look after and improve their health.

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Felicity Hudson

Felicity Hudson

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Sesona Ngqakamba

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