China
Yichang
Marathon

„Shaya, shaya!“

Marathon

Completed: 5 October 2017
The biggest challenge: Kenyan competition
The catchphrase: “Shaya, shaya!”

We flew to Asia for the marathon in late September with a layover at Beijing airport. The city of Yichang, where the race was held, is situated in the People’s Republic of China, in Hubei province, and has a population of around 4 million. Its territory also includes the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Three Gorges Dam, which is built on the China’s mighty Yangtze (Long River).

Before 8 am we headed to the start line, amongst the incredible 20,000 competitors who had also decided to try and conquer the fabled marathon distance. As I couldn’t see, I had no idea of my running competitors, but my guide, Tomáš, suggested that the entire front line was likely to be made up of Kenyans, preceded by a reputation for being super-powerful and fast runners. And he was right. As soon as the Africans started, a cloud of dust rose behind them, and we could only watch their receding calves enviously.

Fans along the route cheered, clapping their hands and waving. There was even a little Chinese boy among them, who was supposedly pointing his little finger at us, eyes wide open and mouth agape in wonder. I’ve never heard a happier crowd anywhere, they even chanted their own running chant at us, which went something like, “Shaya, shaya!” Later we learned that it meant “Fight!” And that’s what we did. We dashed like our rivals from Kenya and flew through the gate in a time of 3 hours 33 minutes 26 seconds in 26th place.

It was a real buzz and a great running experience. Owing to the opportunity provided by Pavel Pacal and the Vysočina Region I was able to experience China again in a different way. Thanks also to my guide Tom for taking care of me along the route.

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