Thu, Feb 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Runner finishes 111 day Sahara Desert adventure

TESTING LIMITS Ultra-endurance marathon runner Kevin Lin said his 111 day trip across the Sahara with two companions tested him mentally and physically

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Taiwanese ultra-marathon specialist Kevin Lin, right, runs across the Sahara with his running partners in this photograph taken on Tuesday. The trio completed the 7,500km trek across the Sahara desert in 111 days and arrived at Suez Canal on Tuesday.

PHOTO COURTESY OF KEVIN LIN

Ultra-endurance marathon runner Kevin Lin (林義傑), along with an American and a Canadian, completed their run across the Sahara Desert, making the trio the first three modern runners to cross the grueling 7,300km desert.

Lin, 30, and his fellow ultra-athletes -- Charlie Engle, 44 and Ray Zahab, 38 -- reached the Suez Canal at Egypt's Red Sea on Tuesday night after running 111 consecutive days to cross the Sahara -- the world's largest desert.

The trio had traversed six countries, beginning with Senegal, followed by Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Egypt.

Lin is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Saturday.

To celebrate Lin's achievement, the government will host a "welcome home" press conference on Monday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.

"I am very happy to see Lin, carrying a national flag on his back, complete this grand challenge. His performance not only went beyond human limitations, but also brought glory to the country," Su said when asked by the press about Lin.

Su said the public can learn a lesson from Lin: "everyone has his forte, and can make it as long as he perseveres in the quest for dreams."

The premier said he had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help Lin solve his visa problem with the Senegalese government before he left on the journey and had also asked the embassy in Gambia to assist Lin when he had difficulties crossing Libya.

The trio endured strong winds, which can abruptly raise sand in every direction and extreme temperatures -- as high as 38oC during the day but freezing at night. The trek was originally scheduled to finish in 80 days.

They began in November, but had to run 200km under the surveillance of Libyan authorities, which at one point refused to grant them entry visas.

Lin, who has traveled the world competing in adventure races, said on the phone to his mentor on Tuesday night that the trek had tested his physical and mental limits.

He had to change his running shoes from size seven to eight-and-a-half because of swelling, but this had not forced him to rest for one single day, Lin said.

A film crew followed the trio, chronicling their desert journey for a documentary by actor Matt Damon's production company, LivePlanet.

Damon plans to narrate the documentary, which will be titled Running the Sahara.

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