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21.05.13 10:57 Survival of the fittest challenge (Volgograd Annual International Marathon-2013)

Have you ever wondered what lies behind the meaning of the word “Marathon”? Or what does it even mean?

Long ago in ancient Greece, there was a war between a city in Greek northeast of Athens and the Persians in 490 B.C. Declaring their victory, the Greece sent a messenger to run on foot from Athens to announce their victory over Persia. He ran a total of 26miles, 385miles (42.195km), hence the word “Marathon”.

On the 4th of May 2013 was the annual Volgograd International Marathon, but instead of running across Athens, it was held at the right river bank of Volgograd. The day before the event, the participants went to a nearby school to do their registrations. There, they were given their numbers and a map showing the routes that they will be running. What made this event so special this year is that, it has two Malaysian students taking part representing Volgograd State Medical University department of International students. Those students were: Daryl Ee Jia Wei (2nd year student, marathon number 347) and Tzai Meng Onn (4th year student, marathon number 314) from the faculty of General Medicine in the 10km run category. I was very proud and honored to be there and to witness the race. I was there with my friend Sulastini to cheer them on and to greet them at the finishing line. It took courage to participate in such an event as they were the only foreign participants.

The event started at 9.30 am sharp, everyone gathered at the starting line and when the pistol was fired, the runner began their 10km journey. In order to qualify, each runner had to run passing the finish line 3 times. According to them, the 1st round seemed so easy, they didn’t even break a sweat but when it came to the second round, there was the breaking point of every man. 1km could seem like 10km and it felt like forever to finish, it was no longer about physical strength, and their mental power was the one that kept them going. During the 3rd round, everyone looked so drained out and if you looked closely enough, you would notice that even their lips were pale and dry. At that point, everyone was exhausted but looking at the finishing line, they pushed themselves to make the final sprint and finally they made it across the finishing line.

When I stood there waiting for them, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of admiration as I saw people of different age group running, I saw 70-80 years old men and women running and even children as young as 10 years old. Despite of their short comings they managed to complete the 10km race and that left me with nothing but respect for them.

To me, a marathon is like a bullfight. There are two ways to kill a bull, for instance. There is the easy way, for one. But all the great matadors end up either dead or mauled because for them killing the bull is not nearly as important as how they kill the bull. They always approach the bull at the greatest risk to themselves, and I admire that. In the marathon, likewise, there are two ways to win. There's the easy way if all you care about is winning. You hang back and risk nothing. Then kick and try to nip the leaders at the end. Or you can push, challenge the others, and make it an exciting race, risking everything. Maybe you lose, but for some, they rather run a gutsy race, pushing all the way and lose, then run a conservative, easy race only for a win.

Chia Li Peng,
4th year
of General Medicine

Volgograd State Medical University, 1, Pavshikh Bortsov Sq., Volgograd,
400131, Russian Federation;
Tel/Fax ++7-8442-38-30-28
(Vice-Chancellor for international affairs, Prof.A.A.Spasov)
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