This has been the 14th year since 1999 that Soochow University has hosted the Ultra Marathon at its campus. In the 2012 Ultra Marathon, six athletes qualified for the international race, making the Soochow event the only one in Taiwan and the second in the world to be awarded the “gold medal certification”. This year’s race gathered the best athletes from around the world. It was blessed with very good weather and was awarded the gold medal certification for a second time.
Top honors were garnered by Japanese athlete Hara, Yoshikazu (285.366 km), Italian runner Cudin, Ivan (255.499 km), German athlete Reus, Florian (253.899 km), Sekiya, Royichi (241.099 km) and Kudo, Mami (222.431 km). Mr. Liu Yi-Cheun, Director of the physical education office, expressed that the record has yet to be confirmed through an application to be submitted by the Chinese Taipei Association of Ultrarunners to the International Ultramarathon Federation.
In the man’s race, last year’s champion, Hara, Yoshikazu, indicated before the race that his goal was to break the Asian record set by Sekiya, Royichi in 2007 (274.88 km). Six hours into the race, Hara, Yoshikazu started to take the lead and went on to win the championship with a record-breaking 285.366 km surpassing the 284,070 km record set by Greek athlete in 2002.
In the women’s division, Kudo, Mami won the championship as expected although she wasn’t able to break her own individual record of 255.303 km set in 2011, but her distance of 222.431 km. was enough to help obtain the gold-medal certification.
After finishing second place at 266.702 last year, Italian athlete Cudin, Ivan’s goal this year was to take the first spot. However, although he failed to surpass his own record set in 2011, his 255.499 personal best this year was enough to secure another second place for him.
Two-time European champion and Sparta Race winner this year, German runner Reus, Florian joined the contest for the first time this year and took the third place with a distance of 253.899 km.
An all time winner and ultra popular runner for the Soochow race, Sekiya, Ryoichi has participated in the race for 12 times. He was totally exhausted at the last stage of the race, dropped to the ground and felt asleep but he woke up within 2 minutes and strove to the finish line. His perseverance spirits have touched many people who were at the race to cheer him up. Though he didn’t break his personal Asian best set in 2007, the distance of 241.099 km was very impressive.
The Ultra Marathon at Soochow is an extreme challenge to one’s physical limitations. A total of 7 out of 42 contenders dropped out from the race due to sudden decrease of body temperature but there were 1700 relay runners during the 24-hour event cheering up for the athletes and experiencing a run with the Ultra Marathon contestants.
|This year’s champion-- HARA, Yoshikazu
|| Female champion-- KUDO, Mami|
|KUDO, Mami cheering with Malaysian athlete ZENG, Zhi-Long
||Group photo: President Pan Wei-Ta with the winners of the Ultra Marathon|
From left to right: KUDO, Mami, SEKIYA, Ryoichi, HARA, Yoshikazu, REUS, Florian, CUDIN, Ivan