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The race of their lives

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-25 07:10

The race of their lives

Le Marathon du Medoc is held each year in Bordeaux, France, combining running 42 kilometers with stopping to taste wine, oysters, steak and more. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fighting flab turns health conscious into torch bearers for an activity that is not for the weak of mind

In the life of a mathematician the number 3.14159 is as second nature as bread and butter or rice and chopsticks are to the rest of us. For another group of people the number 42.195 assumes an importance that in many cases will become an obsession and perhaps even a life-long passion.

And just like 3.14159, expressed in the Greek letter pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, 42.195 has strong Greek connections, reflecting the distance in kilometers that a messenger is said to have run between the towns of Marathon and Athens 2,500 or so years ago.

And just as pi is ever with us, the modern foot race called the marathon endures and endures, which is exactly what those who subject themselves to its rigors are required to do to run 42 kilometers, 195 meters.

Chinese, renowned worldwide for their mathematical prowess, are now taking on the world in marathoning. Some are out to win medals while others are simply in it for the exhilaration, the fun and the health benefits that running in such events and preparing for them can deliver. In either case, the desire to cover the distance and reach the finishing line keeps passions and ambitions high.

For a sense of that you need only look at Wulong, a tourism resort in Chongqing, which staged a marathon a few weeks ago in which participants were allowed to run stripped down to their underwear, and the frigid conditions in which it was run, minus 5 C, failed to deter the hundreds who took part.

Since his first marathon in 2015, Zhou Jiandong, 31, of Nanjing, says he has run in many marathons.

"The first time I heard about the marathon was in 1995, on television. It was something about the Beijing Marathon, and of course little did I know that one day I would become hooked on in."

In high school and college he played soccer but in 2010, three years after he graduated from college, he was overweight and was not as fit as he had once been, he says.

In 2015 after witnessing a marathon and sensing the enthusiasm of those involved, he decided to give it a go and for three months got into a routine of quick walking to get to the point where he could start jogging.

Last April in Nanjing he completed a half marathon and about four months later a full marathon. Now a lot of his time is taken up swapping information and knowledge about marathoning with fellow aficionados, and in fact marathoning has transformed his life, he says.

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