Students take 100-km walk in 'rite of passage'

By Zou Shuo in Changsha | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-05 09:57
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The annual event's participants walk along a highway between Changsha and Xiangtan cities on Nov 11. [Photo by Li Jian/For China Daily]

Participants brave two-day event to build memories, indulge in 'crazy things' in Hunan

Despite wind and rain and sudden temperature drops, 19-year-old Xiao Yuting did not hesitate to participate in the 100-kilometer walk over two days and three cities in Hunan province.

More than 16,000 people signed up for the event held from Nov 11 to 12. The walk has been held annually since 2007, and about 90 percent of the participants are university students, many of whom want to create a special memory of their time at college.

The participants walked from Changsha to Xiangtan on Nov 11. After they rested in Xiangtan, they walked to Zhuzhou on Nov 12, and then took buses back to Changsha. Most of the walk is along the Xiangjiang River, an important tributary of the Yangtze River, dubbed the "mother river" of Hunan by locals.

There is a common belief among university students in Hunan that they have to obtain the certificate confirming they completed the 100-km walk to make their university experience whole. Encouraged by the enthusiasm for the event, Xiao, a sophomore at Hunan Women's University, took part with two of her classmates, even though she was the last one to finish the walk. "I had no idea how far 100 km is, and I was not sure whether I could finish it or not. But I am beyond happy and proud of myself that I did it," she said.

Due to the rain, her shoes and socks were soaked, and she could not feel her feet in the latter part of the walk due to the cold and constant walking. "I thought about quitting many times, and there were taxi drivers right beside us asking whether we wanted to take a taxi and saying what's the point of continuing to walk in such bad weather. Thankfully, none of us decided to give up," she said.

About 90 percent of participants finished the walk, the organizers said, adding that those who quit found their own way home. Xiao said one of the main reasons the event is popular with college students is that walking is much easier than running. College students also have the time and energy to participate in the walk, which requires less skill and fitness than running a marathon.

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