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Taiwan's Tommy Chen takes 1st place in ultramarathon in Bolivia

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Tommy Chen (陳彥博) yesterday took the first place in the Ultra Bolivia Race, marking his first major victory in the past six years.

The Ultra Bolivia Race is a 170 km foot race in 6 stages through the Bolivian Altiplano, where athletes are pitted against the inclement conditions of the South American Andean Plateau.

Coming off a one-year respite since the completion of his goal to complete 8 ultramarathon events in the seven continents within five years in 2013, Chen stated that he is delighted and surprised at his stellar performance at the event.

Chen stated that early in the contest he had employed the more risky strategy of pushing through the stages at close to maximum pace. The grueling work rate and the inclement weather conditions however, had began to take its toll, recalled Chen, who found his stamina dwindling rapidly with each passing day. As a result, Chen's ranking in the race began tumbling, lagging behind the forerunning opponents by as much as 30 minutes.

By the sixth stage Chen had began to show signs of hypothermia and altitude sickness. On the morning of the last day of the race, the temperature had dropped to minus 18 Celsius, with Chen scrambling to start a fire to thaw out his food and water that had frozen through the previous evening.

Fortunately, conditions grew more temperate in the final leg of the race, with Chen capitalizing the window of good weather and make up for lost time as he sprinted through the last 10 km stretch of the sixth stage, clocking in at 2 hours, 46 minutes and 17 second, less than one second behind Katia Figini of Italy. Chen attributed his success in the event to his own conviction and perseverance through pain and ailments.

Chen took the first place position of the Ultra Bolivia Race, completing all six stages at 18 hours, 25 minutes, and 3 seconds.

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Tommy Chen celebrates after winning the 170-km Ultra Bolivia Race through the Bolivian Altiplano in Bolivia, yesterday. (CNA)

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