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Winter break wonders

By Li Xinran | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-24 06:07
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Li Zhiyu participated in the Spartan Super in Abu Dhabi on Dec 10. [Photo provided to China Daily]

More unbeaten paths

While Zhang explored the world firsthand, Li Zhiyu, a 20-year-old junior at The University of Sydney, Australia, spent her time off differently.

Australia's winter break is equivalent to the summer breaks in the US and UK in terms of length.

Although Li is pursuing a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in film studies, she has to earn almost the same credits in terms of major courses and science courses.

"I'll have to take these math classes sooner or later. Three months vs three weeks? I'll take the latter," she said.

As Li finished her study quota for the winter break, she was able to dedicate more time to her favorite recreation, Spartan Race. It's a series of obstacle races of varying difficulties and durations, including the Spartan Sprint, the Spartan Super, the Spartan Beast, and the Spartan Ultra.

Li usually goes for the Spartan Ultra, which is over 50 kilometers long and has more than 60 obstacles. Or sometimes, she would choose the Spartan Beast, which is 21 kilometers and has more than 30 obstacles.

"It depends on what races are available at the event," she said.

Her fascination with Spartan Race began in December 2022 when she stumbled upon an event in Shenzhen, not far from her hometown, Foshan, in South China's Guangdong province.

"That sounds fun, why not?" she recalled.

Without much hesitation, she dedicated nearly six hours to complete her first Spartan Beast, returning home covered in mud and bruises. "My mom asked me if I had been in a fight with someone," she recalled amusingly.

Having completed Spartan Races in various locations, including Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and Fiji, Li values the diverse challenges posed by different landscapes.

"It's like cross-country with obstacles," she said. "I enjoyed the desert in Abu Dhabi, the horse farm in Fiji, and the steep slopes of Chongli in Hebei province."

Beyond physical fitness, Li also credits the sport for introducing her to like-minded friends and instilling a resilient mindset to face different challenges in life.

"I have become more extroverted and willing to break out of my comfort zone," she said. "Now whenever I run into a challenge in life, it seems trivial. Like during a race, I'll just tell myself: as long as I keep moving, I'll reach the finish line."

Li has a rough outline in terms of her future plans. Just like her sports-driven mindset, she's always ready to tackle new challenges.

"I prefer to take things one step at a time," Li said. "I'll figure out what comes next after college and graduate school. However, I'm committed to participating in the Spartan Race as long as my schedule and budget allow."

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