Soochow University hosted the 14th “International running around the O’clock Ultra-marathon at Soochow” on December 5, 2014 in the spirit of “pursuing perseverance and challenging one’s limits.” This year’s race is further distinguished by events entitled “Anti-discrimination and love for Equality” in the memory of Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela one year after his passing. Many people participated in the memorial concert, a commemorative forum, the Mandela book fair, film festival, and leaders’ exhibition, as well as the 2014 Soochow Ultra Marathon—Run for Mandela. Soochow President Professor Pan Wei-Ta led a team of 67 celebrities, alumni, and faculty members who are not professional runners to experience a tryout run for 67 minutes and invited 67 teams, totaling 670 runners, to do a 5-hour relay run. These events lasted 24 hours to symbolize Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s 67 years of efforts in the fight for human rights and to rekindle the interest of the participants in cultivating an unceasing spirit of perseverance and an everlasting passion for equality.
A pre-race press conference was called at Soochow main campus where many distinguished guests participated in order to commemorate Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s lifelong dedication to the fight for human rights and his contributions. The event also marked the opening of the 2014 Ultra-Marathon race. Among the distinguished guests were Former Ambassador of the Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, I-Cheng Loh; Steven Wang; Ti Fu; Chin-Ray Liu; MOFA Department of West Asian and African Affairs Deputy Director, Alexandre Cheng; Representative of the Liaison Office of South Africa in Taiwan, Musawenkosi Aphane, and Deputy Representative Che B. Smith.
Percussion music cheering the participants marked the opening of the press conference. The performers were from the music department of the university, and the names of the 42 runners from ten different countries were sung out as they were invited to walk on the red carpet. This was a sure way to make them feel the cheers and salutations. University President Professor Pan Wei-Ta expressed that something renowned was added this year—a race in honor of Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. In 1993 he was invited to give a lecture to express his ideals and values for human rights and was given an honorary doctorate degree in law. We hope that these series of memorial events could awaken the students in emulating the many spirits of Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: forgiving, passion, perseverance, and tolerance, and that more people will be aware of the efforts and values that we have strived to promote in our teaching.
Mr. Musawenkosi Aphane, Representative of the South African Liaison Office in Taipei, expressed that he still remembered how Dr. Mandela looked at the inauguration ceremony and how he supported Taiwan’s thriving democracy. He was thrilled to see many old friends and wished the success of the upcoming race.
The press conference was opened by Mr. Musawenkosi Aphane, President Pan Wei-Ta, and Deputy Director Alexandre Cheng, and several distinguished guests were present at the opening and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque in memory of Dr. Mandela. Group photos were taken with contestants and the guests, and all were invited to show up on the next day (December 6) to witness the 2014 Ultra Marathon at Soochow.