Whilst it is a regret that the Great Wall of China Marathon (22/05/2022) has to be cancelled at the last minute due to Covid19 pandemic and regional lockdowns in China, we would like to bring your memory back to our local Belfast City Marathon (马拉松 Mǎlāsōng) taking place on the 1st May, through the eyes of XIE Pingping (谢萍萍), a PhD candidate in Education from School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.
After XIE Pingping obtained her master degree in TESOL from School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, she has successfully become a PhD candidate. She has also been an International Student Ambassador since her enrolment.
My unforgettable Belfast City Marathon experience
On 1st May 2022, I completed my first ever marathon in Belfast. Although I reached the finishing line at 14:55, only five minutes before the closing time, I was still so proud of myself with such a wonderful experience!
I registered for the event six months ago, just after a taster session (体验课 tǐyànkè) for the Marathon in 2021, which consisted of an eight-mile walk programme on the marathon day. It was a great experience, so I decided to take on a bit more of challenge. Unfortunately, there was no half (半程 bànchéng) marathon in May, so I had to run the full (全程 quánchéng) marathon.
I found a training plan (训练计划 xùnliàn jìhuà) online and tried my best to stick to it, although it was not easy to follow the plan. During the training period, I ran along the River Lagan towpath (蓝亘河纤道 Lángènhé qiāndào) and really enjoyed myself at a very slow and comfortable pace. I also joined the 10-week Couch to 5k Programme at Queen’s Sport, where I met some other runners from Queen’s and I treated it as the speed run (快速跑 kuàisù pǎo) part of my training because apparently everybody else ran faster than I did!
On the day
After about six months’ exercise, I finally arrived at the start line, ready for the marathon, amongst thousands of other fellow runners. It was cloudy with drizzle, but I would say that it was a perfect day for running. I knew that it was my big day, but to be honest, I was not too sure whether I could finish the whole race. In fact, I did some homework in advance and decided on my quitting point at a First Aid (救护站 jiùhù zhàn) point about 30k away from the starting point, as some trainers suggested.
After we kicked start, I felt that I ran super slowly and when I reached the quitting point, I was rather disappointed to find out that there was no food or water supplement at that point. I said to myself that it would be too stupid to wait there, plus I felt quite able to move on, so I gathered my strength to keep running.
The whole journey was full of craic! For example, I met a runner carrying a guitar – probably carrying it the whole way as I guessed! Full of compassion, he often sang lines of lyrics in response to the people on both sides cheering for him! I also saw a lady running without training shoes. I did not know why, but I believed that she was running for charity, really a brave woman! Some churches even had their own music band and played live music on the street to cheer on the runners.
An unforgettable day
It has been such a pleasant race that I will never forget! All the people I met on my way were so nice and friendly. I am glad that I did not give up half way, as it is such a great memory when I recall those lovely children cheering with their parents and grandparents, holding bowls and plates, kindly giving fruit and sweets to runners, and their cheering up for us, ‘Keep going (继续加油 jìxù jiāyóu), you are almost there!’ I have never felt as full of gratitude as I did that day.
Thank you, Belfast Marathon, for such an unforgettable day!
More of her photos can be seen from the Belfast City Marathon webpage.
Author: XIE Pingping
Editors: Lauren McShane and WANG Liang