Running with Champions
Written by (作者): Yijun Fang 方毅俊
Photos by (图片来源): Xuguang Pan 潘旭光, Kaixia Zheng 郑凯侠, Yue Tang 汤越
On April 26th, 2015, the Mustang Battery Jiulong Lake International Half Marathon began with a gunshot.
Ningbo Focus and co-sponsor Reindeer Station hosted a 30 person team at the half marathon. From the very get go to race day, all the runners were like a family. Friends supported each other and trained together, everything was coordinated up to the very last second. Then, the big day finally came.
“Bang!” at 8:00am sharp two gunshots and the race began. 4,500 marathoners and running enthusiasts broke through the starting line, creating a colorful ocean of orange, blue, and green. With drones in the air, cameras, and smart phones everywhere, runners cheered and screamed to be glimpsed by whoever the audience would be.
Amidst this cheerful atmosphere, the top runners scattered throughout the race, our 30 runners in front, back, and everywhere in between. The press was a flurry as well, trying to glimpse the top runners among fans as they sped by. Throngs of people cheered for their favorites, family, friends, and everyone else running along in the warm May sun, some red with heat and others pushing through the pain to the various finish lines for the three races that were part of the event.
The race itself ran from Zhenhai People’s Square to Zhenhai Avenue, Jiulong Lake Avenue, with the main half marathon going all the way to the Jiulong Lake Scenic Area entrance. There were 12 stations for water, energy drinks, food, and fruit stationed at different areas along the race – especially near the end – to provide runners the ability to replenish their energy to finish strong or celebrate the finish. 770 volunteers also were there to help wherever needed.
The greatest announcement came when members of the Ningbo Focus/Reindeer Station team had completed the race in 40 minutes, thus securing 1st and 3rd place.
Sang Nicholas Kiprotich and Gacinya Eric of Kenya came out to be the best of the best. We were able to catch up with the winners through throngs of fans, media, and event organizers to ask about their wins.
The two runners had trained for this day and had run for many years in Kenya. I caught up with Sang Nicholas after fighting through a throng of Chinese supporters, marathon organizers, and other journalists. Even with all the chaos around him, Sang Nicholas was relaxed, a product of the running. “Running makes me feel relaxed” he told me. Sang Nicholas had been running for 7 years while in Kenya, but this was his first win thanks to hard training and 10 kilometer a day runs. I asked if he was more relaxed after the win, he laughed and agreed.
Speaking with Eric, the third place winner, was relatively easier to find. I found him sitting in a lawn chair in the suddenly barren Zhenhai People’s Square, only the bus and team members waiting and talking with friends. Eric had been running for 2 years in Kenya, having run marathons in his home country before. They were just so-so compared to this one, he said. He was very happy to have won, smiling and saying “I feel good.”
桑恩·尼古拉斯·基普洛迪什（Sang Nicholas Kiprotich）和加辛亚·埃里克（Gacinya Eric），你们是最棒的！是《宁波聚焦》团队的骄傲！是让我们这个大家庭引以为傲的伙伴！我们所有的伙伴们都顺利的完成了比赛，并成为了当天亮丽的风景线和焦点。
《宁波聚焦》马拉松团队的两个成员——桑恩·尼古拉斯·基普洛迪什（Sang Nicholas Kiprotich）和加辛亚·埃里克（Gacinya Eric）分别在九龙湖（宁波）国际半程马拉松赛获得了男子短程赛的冠军和季军。这两位选手都来自肯尼亚，而且都已经拥有多年的长跑经验。在突破众多中国支持者、马拉松主办单位和其他媒体记者的重重包围之后，我追上了桑恩。尽管身后依然一片喧嚣，但桑恩已经放松了下来，这是长跑之后的一种调节方式。“长跑让我感觉放松。”桑恩在肯尼亚跑了7年，但这是他第一次夺冠。我问他是否在这次夺冠之后更放松了，他笑着朝我点点头。