Feature: Running for 7 years, China's deliveryman to chase dream at Paris Olympic mass marathon-Xinhua

Feature: Running for 7 years, China's deliveryman to chase dream at Paris Olympic mass marathon

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-27 13:01:30

BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Luan Yushuai, a 39-year-old deliveryman living in Beijing, had never imagined that he could run the Olympic marathon route until he received an email from the Paris 2024 organizing committee in February.

For the first time in Olympic history, a full marathon and a 10km race open to the public will be organized during the Paris Olympics as the organizers bid to offer opportunities for as many people as possible to get close to the heart of the Games adventure. More than 800,000 enthusiasts from around the world applied for a slot, but only slightly over 40,000 runners were lucky enough to qualify.

Luan is one of the lucky dogs, though he didn't start running regularly until seven years ago.

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, the company Luan works for, was a logistics sponsor of the 2017 Beijing Marathon. To his surprise, Luan was awarded a sponsor slot in the race because his colleagues believed he could run fast and complete more orders.

Luan showed talent for running in his childhood. As a third-grade student in his hometown Ji'an, in northeast China's Jilin Province, he won eight out of ten running events at his school's sports meet. "The other two were relay events, which also relied on teammates," Luan laughed.

The Beijing Marathon was considered a dream race for runners, but it became a burden for Luan at that time. "I didn't exercise before, not to mention a marathon," he recalled. "There was only about a month left before the competition. I didn't want to waste the precious opportunity, but I was afraid that training might take up too much of my work and rest time."

Despite his hesitation, he decided to practice at night to prepare for the race. Due to his busy work schedule, Luan only ran around 70km in total before participating in the 42.195km marathon. "I just wanted to try and finish the race," he said.

Marathons are a severe test of physical strength, perseverance, and willpower, posing a huge challenge for ordinary people. "I was extremely tired after 30km. I never had such a feeling and couldn't feel my legs," Luan said. "I heard volunteers and my colleagues cheering for me along the route. The only thing in my mind was to go ahead and never stop."

"My bib number was F2343, and I clocked 4 hours 23 minutes and 43 seconds in my first marathon. Maybe it was destined," Luan noted.

After the 2017 Beijing Marathon, he started regular training and began to share his running photos on social media. Some of his clients invited him to join their running club.

Following their advice, Luan tied sandbags to his legs to climb stairs during work to improve his physical strength. At night, he used to run for at least two hours on the track field of Beijing Jiaotong University, where he met his wife for the first time.

"My mother didn't understand me initially. She asked me why I wasn't concentrating on working. But I know running makes me relaxed and delighted. Even if the result is just one second faster than before, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled," he said.

Luan has finished more than 40 full and half marathons so far, with a personal best of 2 hours 25 minutes and 55 seconds. In 2021, Luan learned about the Mass Participation Marathon news released by the Paris 2024 organizing committee. His first impulse was that he couldn't miss the chance to be a part of the Olympics. But it wasn't easy to realize the dream.

According to the guidelines, participants needed to upload their information through apps to achieve 100,000 points by the end of 2023 by attending sports activities, including walking, running, cycling, swimming, and skiing.

"Different sports correspond to different points. For instance, 5 points for 1km walk and 10 points for 1km run," Luan said. "For me, my working and training load every day is enough to meet the target. The process is more important than the result itself."

During the Spring Festival holidays in February, Luan received an email from the Paris 2024 organizing committee. He saw the words clearly, "Yushuai, you did it."

Different from his preparation for the 2017 Beijing Marathon, he is absolutely excited this time. Now, Luan and his wife are making plans for their journey to Paris, "We want to experience the culture there and visit the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre."

A month ago, Luan wrote a letter to the Paris 2024 organizing committee to express his excitement and gratitude as an amateur runner. "I will adjust myself to the best, both physically and mentally, to enjoy each step in the Olympics," Luan said.