Belfast Marathon and I

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!

Screenshot of XIE Pingping’s record on the Belfast City Marathon


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

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World Table Tennis Day

Happy World Table Tennis Day! 国际乒乓球日快乐 (Guójì Pīngpāngqiú Rì Kuàilè)!

Did you know that World Table Tennis Day is celebrated annually on 6th April since 2015, which also marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace?


Did you know that table tennis, or 乒乓球 (pīngpāngqiú) in Chinese, is considered the national game in China? And did you know that Chinese has become sort of a common language (unofficially) that many top players of the world are using it, especially at international games? Did you know why table tennis play shouted ‘cho’ at their match?

Actually ‘cho’ is not the Chinese spelling of the pronunciation, instead, it should be ‘ (qiú)‘ which means ball. In its more complete sense it should be ‘好球 (hǎo qiú)’ – lit. good ball (good point, well played) – in Chinese, a typical way of cheering for themselves when scoring. 好 (hǎo) tends to give a weak sound in the syllable and it is often omitted in competitions. So, shouting ‘球 (qiú)’ or ‘cho’ has become a fashion and trend in many international table tennis matches where Chinese players compete.

Then, how to encourage players in a competition, especially when they are in great difficulties, in Chinese? Here are some simple phrases for you to grasp:

  • 加油 (jiāyóu) – lit. add oil; come on, go for it
  • 别放弃 (bié fàngqì) – Don’t give up!
  • 你能行 (nǐ néng xíng) – You can do it!
  • 坚持就是胜利 (jiānchí jiù shì shènglì) – Perseverance leads to victory!

Did you also know that at Queen’s we have a QUB Table Tennis Team (multinational) and there used to be a Chinese team of students and staff members? If they played against each other, which team do you hope to win? Learn how to express hope in Chinese now:

  • 女王大学乒乓球队 (Nǚwáng Dàxué Pīngpāngqiúduì) – Queen’s University Table Tennis Team
  • 中国师生队 (Zhōngguó shīshēngduì) – Chinese Student-Staff Team
  • – 你希望哪个球队赢 (nǐ xīwàng nǎ ge qiúduì yíng)?Which team do you hope to win?
  • – 我希望…… (wǒ xīwàng…) I hope …

So, which team do you hope to win? Give your answer by using the structure and phrases above and get some practice.

Of course, in many games, we just want to play for fun and to develop friendship. So in this context, we would say ‘friendship first, competition second’ – 友谊第一,比赛第二 (yǒuyì dì yī, bǐsài dì èr).

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC

Finally, we hope that you will like table tennis game and join us for fun at some time.

CNY celebration 2017 at Queen’s – Table Tennis Taster Event at PEC
  • 我们喜欢乒乓球 (wǒmen xǐhuan pīngpāngqiú)!

Want to learn more Chinese? Check the Language Centre website for Mandarin Chinese course registration information.

Reminder: Registration will close promptly at 17:00 on Thursday 15 April. Classes are expected to be extremely popular and usually fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly recommended.