PARK PLAYS RACE CARD

A run­ning event or­ga­nized by the lo­cal govern­ment aims to bring at­ten­tion to a stun­ning nat­u­ral at­trac­tion in Yu­men, in Gansu prov­ince

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

world­wide gath­ered at Yu­men na­tional park to get close to its pris­tine na­ture and chal­lenge them­selves. “Its nat­u­ral beauty com­bined with its rugged ter­rain form a per­fect back­ground.”

The Yu­men Na­tional Park swept more than 300 pro­fes­sional run­ners from home and abroad off their feet in Septem­ber with its at­trac­tions — the Danxia land­form, its sili­ci­fied wood, a vol­cano and a desert.

Sit­u­ated in Yu­men city in the north­west­ern prov­ince Gansu, the park is pris­tine with hardly any sign of hu­man in­ter­ven­tion.

The race was or­ga­nized by the lo­cal govern­ment in con­junc­tion with the Nan­jing Migu In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­men­tCoto bring at­ten­tion to the park.

“Its nat­u­ral beauty com­bined with its rugged ter­rain form a per­fect back­ground,” says Wi­told Smieszek from Poland, the di­rec­tor of the race.

Yu­men, which plans to open the na­ture re­serve to the public from next year, or­ga­nized the race here as the moun­tains, the canyons, and sand plains have not been seen by many peo­ple.

“We wanted the run­ners to have the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time, fea­tur­ing a chal­lenge, a re­ward and hap­pi­ness,” says Smieszek.

“Ath­letes tak­ing part in the race did not just run the course, fin­ish and leave, but rather en­joyed the lo­cal fes­tiv­i­ties and at­mos­phere.”

Safety and show­cas­ing the re­gion’s nat­u­ral beauty were taken into ac­count when chart­ing the chal­leng­ing race­course.

The or­ga­niz­ers also en­sured that ve­hic­u­lar ac­cess was pos­si­ble and placed vol­un­teers at key lo­ca­tions along the run­ning trail.

The course of­fered an un­par­al­leled di­ver­sity of ter­rain, with the first sec­tion tak­ing run­ners through stun­ning nar­row sand canyons, and the col­ors go­ing from red to green to white and to gray in am­at­ter of 20 kilo­me­ters.

The trail was very nar­row pos­ing plenty of chal­lenges to the run­ners.

Then, just as the course reached the vol­cano, it­took­thecom­peti­tors to theGobi plains— a seem­ingly flat yet very dif­fi­cult part of the race — and then headed to­ward the high moun­tains on the other side of the val­ley.

The moun­tain sec­tion be­gan with a climb of 1,500 me­ters over 8 kilo­me­ters, test­ing the en­durance and strength of ev­ery com­peti­tor.

It (the trail) then went over a moun­tain ridge, re­ferred to as the Devil’s Ridge.

At the very top, an al­ti­tude of 3,200 me­ters, the run­ners could turn around and see the course be­hind them.

“This point in the race was to re­ward the run­ners for all the hard work done,” says Smieszek.

After that, the trail headed down to­ward the fin­ish line, where a fire, food, mu­sic and friends waited.

Speak­ing about the trail, Yun Yan­qiao, who won the first prize, says: “There were many ups and downs, and the last 20 kilo­me­ters rose 1,500 me­ters, and was prac­ti­cally ver­ti­cal and needed hands and feet to pass.

“It was an amaz­ing run,” says Yun, adding that the Gobi and Danxia land­form were pleas­ing to the eye and made for an easy run­ning ex­pe­ri­ence.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Bei­jing and en­tered the race to pro­mote a low-car­bon life­style, says: “I saw con­tes­tants use rub­ber fold­able cups in­stead of dis­pos­able pa­per ones.

“Run­ning is part of a low-car­bon life­style and I usu­ally walk or run if the time al­lows it,” he says, adding that peo­ple liv­ing in big cities of­ten take a bus even the des­ti­na­tion is one stop away.

Yun, who dis­cov­ered his love for run­ning when he took part in the Bei­jing Marathon in 2006, right be­fore he went to col­lege, com­pleted the race in 21.5 hours.

After that, he be­gin prac­tic­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally. both He then stood sev­enth in an event fea­tur­ing run­ning, boat­ing and cy­cling at Shandong prov­ince’s Tais­hanMoun­tain in 2007.

“I then took a shine to cross-run­ning, which al­lows one to get close to na­ture and does not make run­ning bor­ing,” he says.

Now, run­ning is an in­te­gral part of Yun’s life, and the run­ner, who lives near the Olympic Park, wakes up at five ev­ery morn­ing and runs 20-30 kilo­me­ters be­fore head­ing to work. His ef­forts have paid off. Yun has won many long-dis­tance run­ning events, in­clud­ing ones staged in Gansu’s Dun­huang and Zhangye, andMinya Konka in Sichuan prov­ince, this year.

“The whole point of run­ning is to make peace with your­self and en­joy it. If you fol­low some­one else’s pace you might end up mess­ing up your race,” he says.

Pro­fes­sional run­ners Wi­told Smieszek, di­rec­tor of the race in Yu­men Na­tional Park

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