ChinaUnconscious in the mountains, Zhang Xiaotao was found and rescued by a shepherd in the tragedy that killed 21 ultra trail athletes in Gansu on May 22.
On the morning of May 22, 172 athletes anxiously waited for the signal to start the 100km Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon – a mountain race in the Yellow Forest National Geopark. A few people in thin jackets, warm up their muscles, jump up and down before the starting line. Zhang Xiaotao looked around, and noticed that the wind blew the hats of some friends running around him. It was the first sign of a terrible day ahead. But at the time, Zhang – a 30-year-old sports blogger – did not know that just hours later, he would lie unconscious on a dangerous mountain, after the weather turned bad quickly, hail and high winds arrived.
Zhang was one of the athletes who was saved when the heavy rain turned to hail and the temperature plummeted. He was much luckier than the 21 deceased runners who had hypothermia before their deaths.
As Zhang climbed the most difficult part of the competition – from 20km to 30km, hail and gusty winds appeared, growing louder, limiting visibility. “It kept hitting my face and my vision went blurry. I couldn’t see the road clearly,” this runner said.
The wind was so strong that Zhang slipped and fell nearly 10 times, until he could not lift himself up and lost consciousness. The blogger wakes up in a cave, wrapped in a cotton blanket and warmed by a fire. A shepherd named Zhu Keming found and brought Zhang to safety. “I owe him my life,” he said.
Zhu lives in Truong Sinh village, Canh Thai district. On May 22, he went to the mountain to graze sheep and watch the athletes compete as usual. When it started to rain near noon, Zhu entered the cave he used as a stopover when he went to herd sheep. While resting, Zhu heard the loud screams of the athletes. The shepherd immediately went to check and found that the group of five athletes had a cold, one of them started convulsing. The whole year was warmed by fire and kept warm by Zhu’s blanket.
Zhu then called and went to the meeting point to wait for the rescue team and found Zhang lying unconscious. The shepherd immediately called the other five athletes, who were now recovered, to return and take Zhang back to the shelter. At about 19:00 on May 22, all six athletes were picked up by rescue workers.
By the evening of May 23, after the rescue work was completed, all 172 runners were found, the story of the runners stuck because there was no phone signal and were not prepared for extreme weather. , angered the community. A team to investigate the disaster has been formed. The media questioned the organizers’ failure to decide to cancel the race sooner and what they could do to prevent loss of life.
When the mayor of Baiyin bowed his head to apologize to the victims’ families on television, Zhang thought he was close to being among the victims. As soon as he started up the mountain, he passed Huang Guanjun – the 10,000m champion at the 2019 China Paralympic Games. When Zhang passed, Huang pointed to his ear and waved his hand, signaling him to know. I can’t hear Zhang talking
“I found out he was deaf and mute. Not long after, Huang died on the same pass where we met,” Zhang said.
Road races and mountain races have become popular over the last two decades. The top athletes are increasingly setting new goals, increasing the difficulty and length of the race. There are tournaments, athletes run for a few days, run hundreds of kilometers, they even enjoy mountain runs at record altitudes and extreme temperatures. Critics say that some races begin to blur the line between conquest and recklessness.
Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon in Yellowstone Forest National Geopark has been organized by the local government for the past four years. The event is seen as a way to boost tourism for one of China’s poorest provinces. Participants are usually mountain climbers, ultra-long-distance runners, trail runners. Many of them run for the bounty goal. The prizes for the first and second places are nearly 2500 USD and nearly 2000 USD respectively, while the top 10 athletes will receive 300 USD, and the athletes who complete the distance within the allotted time (finisher) will receive 248 USD in money. reward.
Yun Yanqiao, an accomplished track and field athlete in China, did not participate in the race on May 22, but lost two friends, Huang Yinbin (28 years old) and Liang Jing (31 years old) – the ultra marathon champion. According to Yun, both Huang and Liang come from not-so-rich backgrounds and run ultra marathons with the goal of earning bonuses. Liang Jing races for his wife and young children, while also satisfying his own passion.
“He’s a guy who always works hard in training and playing. He cares about his family,” Yun said.
One of the survivors – famous Chinese mountaineer, Luo Jing – described to state broadcaster CCTV his own experience in the tragedy. As she and the others started climbing, the air thinned as they climbed, and she noticed more and more people stopping by the side of the road, shivering with cold.
“They said it was too cold in the mountains and they were all wearing blazers and shorts. One said to us: ‘Let’s go down the mountain, someone is foaming at the mouth,'” Luo Jing said. She also posted a short video on Weibo, shooting down the mountain and saying, “I’ll be right back. I’m safe,” the wind howls in the phone and the rain obscures the frame.
Xuan Thang (according to the New York Times)
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