Chinese ultramarathon survivor rescued by herdsman, sheltered in cave


FILE PHOTO: Rescue staff carry a stretcher as they work on the website the place excessive chilly climate killed individuals of an 100-km ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province, China Might 22, 2021. cnsphoto through REUTERS

BEIJING – Lengthy-distance runner Zhang Xiaotao was within the main pack of the ultramarathon race in China through which 21 individuals died from hypothermia after being drenched by freezing rain and buffeted by gale-force winds on a mountain path.

Of the half dozen frontrunners, Zhang was the one one to outlive Saturday’s catastrophe within the highlands above the Yellow River in northwest China. Recovering from his ordeal, 29-year-old Zhang recounted how he was discovered unconscious by a herdsman who carried him to security.

“I pressed SOS on my GPS tracker after which I handed out,” Zhang wrote in a submit a day afterward Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog well-liked in China.

“I used to be unconscious on the mountain for about 2-1/2 hours till a herder handed by and carried me to a cave.”

“He arrange a fireplace and wrapped me in a quilt. And after one other hour or so I wakened.”

“I’m most grateful to the massive uncle who saved me, as a result of with out him, I’d nonetheless be mendacity there. I’ll always remember the brand new life that he has given me!”

Of the 172 individuals that set out within the 100-kilometer (62-mile) race on Saturday morning, 151 survived.

Zhang mentioned that regardless of his exhaustion he was unable to sleep on Saturday night time as he awaited information of his fellow runners.

The final of the 21 victims was discovered lifeless on Sunday morning.

Mounting anger on social media was amplified by information that two elite marathon athletes have been among the many lifeless.

“Nobody is aware of that I haven’t had any sleep up to now two days, and nobody is aware of how a lot I’ve wept up to now two days,” Zhang mentioned.

At a information convention on Sunday, officers in Baiyin, a depressed mining metropolis in Gansu province, bowed and apologized, saying they have been to be blamed.

Sporting occasions, significantly excessive sports activities, have proliferated in western China within the final 5 years, inspired by native officers seeking to flip depleted mining cities into journey and sports activities hubs, a method endorsed by Beijing.

Organizers of the Jingtai ultramarathon had halted the race at 2:00 p.m., two hours after runners sought assist in cell messaging teams, state-run Xinhua information company reported, citing a number of individuals who mentioned that they had obtained no discover of the suspension earlier than they misplaced consciousness or suffered damage.

“The organizer ought to have had individuals stand by within the powerful part of the path, or deployed extra rescuers. They need to even have set obligatory guidelines on runners bringing out of doors jackets,” Zhang mentioned.

Protecting gear similar to heat jackets was really helpful, not obligatory, in an inventory supplied by the organizers, the official Xinhua information company reported on Monday.

Most runners had set off in that ill-fated race carrying t-shirts and shorts. Some survivors described how their silver thermal blankets have been ripped to shreds by the robust winds.

China’s high sporting physique convened an emergency assembly on Sunday night time in response to the tragedy.

“Native authorities ought to formulate focused security and emergency response plans, and set up ‘circuit-breaker mechanisms’ (to shortly droop occasions),” the Normal Administration of Sport mentioned after its assembly.

“The Baiyin ultramarathon is a public security accident as a consequence of sudden modifications in native climate. The lesson was a really painful one.”

A day earlier than the race, Zhang wrote on his WeChat web page: “One hopes that one reaches his vacation spot each time.”

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