An interview with Edinburgh Napier’s star runner – Jonas Müller

Jonas Muller running on a field on a sunny day

We sat down for a chat with Jonas Müller, a German PhD student passionate about the sustainable management of mass-sporting events, who recently finished 3rd at the Wings for Life World Run, running more than 63 km in just 4 hours. We talked about his research and passion for long-distance running and learnt some interesting facts.

What attracted you to Edinburgh Napier University?

I was doing a semester abroad at Edinburgh Napier in 2016. And after the four months, I had spent here, I decided that I wanted to come back after graduating. I came back in September 2019 to do an International Business Management MSc and then decided to continue my studies with a PhD. I think Edinburgh Napier is a really great university, regarding the size, the people and everything. It’s the perfect university for me.

Could you please tell us about your PhD research?

I’m researching the sustainability of large running events, and my main focus is the German-speaking part of Europe. I’m researching how sustainable they already are and in what ways they act sustainably, and what participants think about sustainability. We can already see that runners consider not only the course and atmosphere of the events but also how sustainably they are managed. So, with my research, I want to show European organisers that they should do more about sustainability to attract participants.

Why did you decide to research this topic?

I think it’s the perfect mix for me because I studied marketing and business management at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and have been a runner for about 15 years. I have a wide network in the field, especially in Germany, but further afield too, so it’s good because I can use all these connections. But I do it mainly because I’m trying to help to develop a greener world. I think everybody should do their bit, and this is how I play my part.

What are you hoping to achieve with the outcome of your research?

I’m trying to motivate organisers in Germany, the UK, and beyond. Encourage them to act more sustainably and to talk about sustainability. Because like I already mentioned, I think this is becoming more and more important and a deciding factor for the participants. So, I want to push and enable organisers to manage their events sustainably.

Could you please tell us about the Wings for Life World Run?

Of course, the run has been organised every year since 2014. This year there were more than 162,000 participants worldwide, all starting at the same time no matter their location. Some do a Flagship Run (a designated course), others do an Organised App Run (anywhere in the world with their phone tracking their distance, running together), and some do their own route with the App. After half an hour, a Catcher Car leaves to catch up with the runners. The goal is to outrun the car for as long as possible. In my case, that meant running 63.69 km up and down Cramond Promenade for 4 hours and 1 minute, finishing in the top 3 worldwide, which felt incredible.

Why did you decide to participate?

All proceeds from the event go to spinal cord injuries research, and that’s amazing, I think. It’s an important cause, and it’s important to talk about it and get more people involved with this run.

How can people get involved? Do you have to be a runner to participate?

Absolutely not, everybody is welcome! Some people just walk one mile, and that’s all they do. They’re not pro athletes and not even runners, but they still get involved for the sake of the cause. It’s super simple to get involved; it only takes an online registration and an £18 payment, all of which will go to the research. The more people participate, the sooner we’ll find solutions and cures for spinal cord injuries.

To learn more about the Wings for Life World Run and “run for those who can’t” in the next event, visit the website.


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