Wearing the finisher medal
Before the race
By Natalie Ng, Wendy Shi
来自美国的David也是参赛选手之一。因为热爱，他参加“厦马”一跑就是12年。 期间，他每一次参赛都拍下了照片，不知不觉就记录下这座城市的变化。 作为经历过28次各国马拉松的“资深马迷”，他谈起“厦马”还是兴奋不减:“‘厦马’有很棒的赛道，美丽的风景，还有热情的观众，对于参赛者来说，是一场绝好的体验。”
Marathons are more popular domestically and internationally than ever before, with participants spurred by a desire to get fit, lose weight and conquer new goals.
One of Xiamen's marathon enthusiasts is David Powell, an American who first moved to this city in 2005. He first started running marathons a decade ago, inspired by a friend's offhand comment. “My initial motivation was vanity, my friend told me I was gaining weight as I got older,” said Mr. Powell. “That hit home because I've always thought of myself as fit,” he added.
Runners often say that exercise is simultaneously difficult and relaxing. It's a sentiment seconded by Mr. Powell, who said that running is hard but helps him maintain a positive attitude. “Running gives me time to clear my head, forget about stress and enjoy being in the great outdoors,” he said.
When the Xiamen Marathon debuted in 2003, it quickly became a key annual event for Xiamen. The race draws tens of thousands of participants and spectators to a communal activity that unites the whole city. The marathon “raises Xiamen's national and international profile by drawing entrants from around the country and the world,” said Mr. Powell.
Mr. Powell first ran the marathon in 2007 and has run every year since. Last Sunday was his twelfth local marathon. “Xiamen has the best road course for scenery and some of the most enthusiastic crowds,” he noted. He added that the visual riches of the marathon's course can distract from the inevitable physical challenges of running a marathon.
The long-time runner added that, for a well-prepared runner, training can be more difficult than the actual marathon. “Maintaining motivation and hitting the road to get in enough training miles is the hardest part,” said Mr. Powell.
Having a training partner can be a great motivation, he added. “Even if your partner isn't prepping for a marathon, he or she can join you for shorter runs and trips to the gym to keep things social and fun.”
Mr. Powell also likes to choose running routes that are beautiful yet challenging to break up what can be a monotonous training regime. A proper training plan is necessary, he noted, even though work and life can often force the most dedicated runner to adjust the best-laid plans.
“I try to mix things up, with one day for running hills and other days for sprints, tempo runs and a long weekend run,”said Mr. Powell. “I try to run one hour per day over the course of a week,” he explained. “A couple of days off can be followed by a longer three-hour training run on the weekend.”
Marathon running is a race against the clock not only on the day of the race but over time. “As I get older, it gets harder to set personal bests so it's important to set new goals that don't involve the clock,” said Mr. Powell.
While personal best times may be in his rearview mirror, Mr. Powell and his wife Peng Fei use marathons to explore new vistas. “Marathons are a great excuse to travel, whether it's a weekend trip to Seoul or a romantic vacation in Rome,” he said. “My wife and I have had the chance to visit many cities and scenic spots in China thanks to marathons,” he added.
While marathons are hard and there are no shortcuts, Mr. Powell says that the hardest part of practice is often the first step. “Once you hit the road, your body takes over and your mind follows,” he said. “But when you're sitting on a comfortable couch, it can be hard to get out the door.”
He advised novice runners preparing for a first marathon to begin with shorter runs and then gradually build up distance over time. “This typically means doing some shorter runs during the week and gradually extending a weekend long run by one or two kilometers per week.”
While a marathon lasts anywhere from two to six hours or more, Mr. Powell said that the best way to think of a marathon is as a four-month journey on the road and into the self. “A typical marathon has 30,000 participants and only the very fastest female and male runners will take the first prize,” he noted. “But that doesn't mean everyone else is a failure,” he added.
“The training and its joys and pains are just as important as the marathon itself,” he said. “Win or lose, finish or not, what really counts is making the effort, learning about yourself and sharing a communal experience with your friends.”