China's marathon legend Chen Penbin races to a brighter future (3-last)

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-03 12:00:44|Editor: huaxia
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FAME

By 2009, Penbin was already a sensation in the outdoor sporting community. His ambition didn't stop there. He was confident in his ability to push himself to his limits and his body to the extremes of what a human is capable of. It was out of this determination that he resolved to become the first man to complete an ultramarathon on all seven continents.

His first time abroad was in France at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). "Witnessing our national flag abroad was of an experience that made me realize competition was more than just fame and profit. It is a national honor," Penbin said.

His seven-continent race began in 2010, in China's Xinjiang, his concluding last steps were in the South Pole, in 2014. In between: the Sahara Desert, the Western United States, the Queensland in the Australian subcontinent, Athens to Sparta, and the Amazon rainforest in South America.

Out of six participants, Penbin was one of only two that completed the South Pole challenge, enduring 14 hours of minus 20 degrees Celsius arctic winds. He became the first and only Chinese to complete and win this race.

He equates his personal achievements with strides made for the Chinese nation. Penbin's success was the head-wave of China's own marathon fever. Running from Guangdong to Beijing, across nine provinces, Penbin became the only athlete in history to run 100 marathons in 100 consecutive days. Aided by governmental reforms which are attempting to increase the prevalence of sporting activities, many Chinese are now looking up to Penbin as a role model. In 2015, the year when Penbin was voted as the Athlete of the Year for non-Olympic sports by the state television CCTV, there were 10 times the number of marathons as 10 years ago. By 2016, the number of races exceeded 300.

Even though the time alone is one of the distance running's attractions, "Run Together!" was the title of Penbin's effort to engage more people in healthy lifestyles, with 100km races held weekly for five consecutive weeks.

"I am empty without everyone's enthusiasm towards marathon. My success was due to this era, if I were to complete the ultramarathon anytime different in history, I wouldn't be as famous."

CHIVALRY

The blessings from his ancestors that are embedded in Penbin's name are very much evident. Penbin was able to provide for his whole family during their time of need. By 2011, he was able to build a four-story home and move his family off the island.

Penbin's wife, Huang Qingqing, is a college graduate. Although some might think that a difference in education, experience, and expertise would create a gap in between the two, according to her, love and companionship come with no conditions. "We plan to bring our daughter to the upcoming Taizhou Marathon, to participate as a family unit," both said.

The fact that her husband loves the sport leads to Qingqing's full support for Penbin, no matter how much concern and pain she has watching him endure all those hardships.

However, Penbin's new cause has won his wife's even more applause.

"I want to train others professionally free of charge. I think the more important thing is the philosophy of running that can be applied to every aspect of life," says Penbin.

"I understands the masses'concern with injuries that come with running. One should not result to urge to bolt as soon as one puts on his running shoes; and should not neglect training and professional coaching," he adds.

Having experienced major injuries during his training career, Penbin has revolutionized a form of long distance jogging close to what the Africans use.

"My plans for the next twenty years will not only include training runners online but also constantly promoting healthy lifestyles." He also says he hopes to document his story through film.

When asked about his status as "China's Forrest Gump," Penbin had this rebuttal: "Shouldn't my story be more compelling?" Enditem

(Editor: The story, written in Chinese by Shen Nan, was translated by Xu Xinyuan and edited by Spencer Musick)

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