On December 2nd and 3rd ,2017, the world renowned Soochow International 24hr Ultra-marathon entered its 17th and best year, with seven ultra-runners completing outstanding records, qualifying the event for IAU Gold Label Marathon, the third time since the race first began in 1999, and the only one so far in the world to be awarded such honor in 2017.
Former ROC President Ma Ying-Jeou recounted his participation in the Soochow Ultra-marathons since 1999. He quoted Yiqi Mei, former President of National Tsing Hua University, “what a university needs is not great buildings, but great people”, to explain how Soochow managed to put on such a large scale event despite the small campus. He found it admirable and heartwarming that everyone worked so diligently to overcome hardships and make the event a success. Soochow University President Wei-Ta Pan added, “Every step in the preparation is a challenge in itself. But with the spirit of ultra-marathoners, we tried our best and kept moving forward.” He shared his hope that people around the world will be able to witness this spirit in Soochow University faculty, and students as well.
Soochow’s Ultra-marathon Ambassador, “Ultra-marathon Mom” Shu-Jung Chiu, once named the fastest female runner in Asia, accompanied by President Ma and President Pan, walked the first lap of the 30 minute celebrity race to cheer on the runners. President Ma took part in the 30 minutes run for ALS patients to gather support, to encourage everybody to constantly challenge themselves, and to create meaning in life. Baseball stars from the ChinaTrust Brothers Club ran with Malaysian Cerebral Palsy runner Cheng Zhee Long. Visually-impaired Chinese major Po-Hung Shen ran the 30 minute race for the first time with two invited fellow visually-impaired students; Law major Shih-Peng Wang, and English major Shao-Ching Hsieh. They were the showcase of positive attitude toward life which touched and encouraged all the other runners.
Yoshihiko Ishikawa from Japan finished first with 266.938 kilometers. Toshiro Naraki, also from Japan, took second place with 261.605 kilometers. France’s Stéphane Ruel came in third at 259.178 kilometers. Courtney Dauwalter from the USA was the champion in female race with 256.405km. The three together with Poland’s Andrew Radzikowski 245.180km, Hungary’s Tamas Rudolf 241.699km, as well as the UK’s Dan Lawson 241.205km all completed more than 240 kilometers, enabling this year’s race to Gold Label designation.
In order for a 24 hour ultra-marathon to qualify as a Gold Label Race under the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) guidelines, at least five runners have to meet the set criterion, which is at least 220 kilometers for those in the women’s division and a minimum of 240 kilometers for those in the men’s division. This year’s Soochow Ultra-marathon breaks Gold Label Race records with six in the men’s division and one in the women’s division.
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