Runner Chen nearly gave up in 700 km of Arctic chill
By Joseph Yeh,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese athlete Tommy Chen (陳彥博) said yesterday that freezing temperatures and terrible loneliness almost prevented him from finishing a 700-kilometer ultramarathon in Canada's Arctic Yukon territory last month.
March 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
“For most of the 11-day race, I was surrounded by nothing but darkness and loneliness,” Chen said during a press conference in Taipei.
What made the situation even worse, he said, were the extreme temperatures that regularly ranged between minus 20 and minus 30 degrees Celsius.
There were many times that he thought about giving up but he persevered and completed the competition, Chen noted. Recalling the grueling experience, he said that it was more than just a competition — it was a fight for survival.
But the hardship and loneliness he suffered also taught him a lesson about facing and overcoming his own fear, he added.
Chen returned to Taiwan earlier this week after finishing the race on Feb. 14, becoming the first Asian to complete the ultramarathon, which is dubbed one of the most challenging in the world.
The 26-year-old Taipei native is also the youngest contestants to finish the race, in 254 hours and 15 minutes.
The run was so challenging that 10 of the 24 contestants who began were forced to drop out throughout the race due to injuries.
Out of utter exhaustion, Chen slept for four days after concluding the race, during which he lost 12 kilograms.
The challenge was part of Chen's goal, which he set in 2009, to finish eight races on all seven continents within five years.
Chen has one more race to go: a 520-km, 10-day run in Australia in May.