Chinese fisherman makes ultra marathon history

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 10, 2014
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Despite the severe weather conditions, Chen finished this year's ultra marathon in 13 hours, 57minutes and 46 seconds, taking first place.

After having worked nine years as a fisherman, Chen lost interest in the job and sold his boat despite strong opposition from his father. Chen sought another job in a valve factory and developed the hobby of jogging between his home and the factory, a 10-kilometer round trip, every day.

Many a time, this lone shirtless runner on the road drew looks of surprise from passers-by who thought Chen must be mad. Immune to the mocking and jeers, Chen believed he had a special talent for running.

"I called some companies more than 100 times to see if any of them could sponsor me, but not a single company was even willing to think about it," Chen recalled. However, his persistence eventually paid off when the boss of Supor, one of the biggest cookware suppliers in China, heard his story and promised to offer him a job at the company that allowed him adequate time to practice.

Supor supported Chen’s participation in contests and reimbursed him for all his costs, including round-trip tickets, food and accommodations. Therefore, whenever he appears in contests these days, he sticks a Supor label next to his official sponsors’ logos on his sportswear.

"The company never asked me for anything in return, but I know that I need to show my gratitude," Chen said.

As he began to participate more frequently in marathons, Chen won more awards that have greatly improved his life. He spent a lot on a house in the town opposite his island hometown so he can have easy access to qualified training. He brought his entire family there to live with him. His mother prepares a sumptuous meal before each of his races. However, after the meal, there is always an arduous and challenging journey ahead of Chen.

The Antarctic Ice Marathon, which drew only six competitors this year, is one of the harshest races Chen has ever run. With temperatures slipping below negative 30 degrees Celsius and Force 11-level gales roaring, the athletes were freezing as they raced to their destination. According to the race organizer, this year’s ultra marathon experienced the worst weather since the establishment of the contest.

However, despite the severe weather conditions, Chen persisted, finishing the race in 13 hours, 57minutes and 46 seconds, taking first place. Although he was unable to break the record of about 11 hours, he met an amazing life goal by completing ultra marathons on seven continents in the span of four years and five months.

With so many awards, his friends encouraged him to open a marathon club and turn from being a runner to a trainer. That way, it would be easier to get a steady flow of income. But Chen didn’t agree with their suggestion.

"I have many goals to accomplish since there are so many contests in different countries. I hope that I can run until I’m 56 years old, and if I fail in doing so, I have no problem going back to being a fisherman again," Chen said.

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