Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Folk group completes Sahara run

STATUE IN THE SAND:The Jioutian performers not only finished the 250km desert ultramarathon, but did so carrying a 17kg statue of the Taoist god Nalakuvara

By Hsieh Feng-chiu  /  Staff Reporter

Two members of the team that took part in the 250km Sahara Race in Egypt pose with a santaizi statue in Greater Taichung on Aug. 29.

Photo: CNA

The Jioutian Folk Performance Troupe yesterday succeeded in achieving its goal of running a 250km ultramarathon across the Sahara while carrying a statue of the Taoist deity Nalakuvara, better known in Taiwan as santaizi, or the Third Prince.

Ultramarathons are a huge test of human ability, involving running long distances in extreme conditions and inhospitable environments, but the members of the Jioutian Folk Performance Troup took the challenge to another level by having its members take turns carrying the 17kg statue of Nalakuvara in an effort to show the world the beauty of Taiwanese folk art.

The team included eight runners, seven coaches and two team leaders.

The youngest team member was 16-year-old Tsai Yi-kai (蔡奕凱), while the only female member was 20-year-old Chen Kuan-ying (陳冠瑩).

In order to endure the extreme climate of the Sahara — which can see temperatures as high as 50?C — for the duration of the seven-day marathon, team members trained for the past six months under the midday sun in temperatures of 35?C to 38?C prior to their departure for the Sahara on Sept. 28 for the ultramarathon, which began last Sunday.

Their training included altitude training on Hehuanshan (合歡山), which is more than 3,000m high, as well as running in the sand in high temperatures in Kenting (墾丁), Pingtung County, and in Penghu County.

In Penghu, team members ran 100km within 24 hours. Team members also ran 40km from central Taichung City to Dadushan (大肚山) and back as part of their training.

Chen, who in the past had been caught gambling by police, but turned her life around two years ago, said the training, including weight lifting and a daily 15km run, was very challenging.

“Chen Kuan-ying and Tsai Yi-kai are all better than me,” said Lee Kuang-cheng (李光正), administrative manager of the troupe and one of the team members. “I fainted during the training in Penghu, but they completed the course without a problem.”

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