More than 300 people, mostly triathletes and cyclists, lined up at the Puyan Shunze Temple (埔鹽順澤宮) in Changhua County yesterday to receive caps after Norwegian triathlete Gustav Iden on Sept. 8 wore one as he won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in France.
After claiming the title, Iden uploaded a photograph of himself finishing the race to Instagram, boosting the popularity of the caps.
Since then, the temple has had 1,000 made to meet overwhelming demand for the caps, which cyclists are wearing as lucky charms.
Photo: Chen Kuan-pei, Taipei Times
Taipei-based Taiwan Triathlon Co (台灣鐵人三項公司) said it would pay to have an additional 1,000 caps made for people who miss out.
Over the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, large crowds gathered in the ordinarily quiet Puyan Township (埔鹽), while street vendors set up shop near the temple.
Hsu Wei-chiao (許維樵), who is in charge of temple legal affairs, on Saturday said that many faithful enjoyed an evening of barbecue before heading to the temple, where a line had formed by 2am.
The temple yesterday said that was the last day people could sign up for the caps, which would not be delivered until next month.
As of yesterday, orders had exceeded 40,000, it said.
The temple said it has a limit of one cap per visitor and dismissed rumors that they cost NT$100 each.
Hsu said the temple is not affiliated with selling of the caps after Chinese-language media reported that some people had placed the hats for sale online, charging as much as NT$1,980 apiece.
“The caps are for us to befriend people and are free of charge. They are not authentic if they do not bear the golden seal of Xuantian Shangdi [玄天上帝, emperor of the mysterious heaven, a high-ranking Taoist deity honored by the temple],” temple director Wei Shin-ku (魏信顧) said.
“We would partner with the temple and construct more tourism facilities, such as bicycle lanes,” Puyan Township Mayor Hsu Wen-ping (許文萍) said. “We hope that the town could turn into a tourist attraction by combining religion, agriculture and sports.”
Taiwan Triathlon said it has invited Iden to attend an Ironman event in Taiwan on March 15 next year, but he turned down the invitation to concentrate on training for the Tokyo Olympics.
However, he promised to visit after the Olympics, the company said, adding that it told him that Taiwanese tradition is to express gratitude after Xuantian Shangdi grants a wish.
Iden on Saturday posted a photograph of him wearing the hat on the day he claimed the title, writing: “Crazy much have happened since this picture was taken...And a special mention to my new crazy Taiwanese followers. I love you all.”
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