Elderly couple defies age, completing 100 Marathon races

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-01 16:50
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Hu Yingfu and Wang Zhangmin celebrate together after finishing a marathon. [Screenshot from CCTV]

A couple, Hu Yingfu and Wang Zhangmin, dubbed the "marathon duo", has participated in over 100 marathon races across the country, despite their combined age of 163 years, CCTV News reported.

The husband Hu, aged 86, and the wife Wang, aged 77, have maintained robust health due to years of running. In late 2023, they attended Hefei International Marathon, with Hu completing the half marathon in an impressive 2 hours and 20 minutes.

The couple have become stars in the marathon community, having won at least 200 medals from various sports meetings. There is even a special room in their home used to display the medals, certificates and souvenirs they win from the races, with walls covered in pictures of their competition experiences.

At first, the couple started running to improve their health, but, beyond their expectation, they were fascinated by the sport after some time.

Over 20 years ago, Wang picked up running following her friend's advice and felt the health benefits. Therefore, after Hu retired in 1997, she encouraged her husband to join her.

With no prior foundation, Hu found running to be quite challenging initially, managing only to cover a distance of one to two hundred meters. Later, he came up with a tactic – counting telegraph poles while running. Gradually, he was able to run longer distances, and his physical condition improved over time.

Hu Yingfu and Wang Zhangmin hold medals they have won in different athletics competitions. [Screenshot from CCTV]

In 2004, the couple signed up for the track competition at the National Masters Games for the first time. To their surprise, Zhang won the fourth prize. From then on, they became frequenters of the subsequent National Masters Games, as well as provincial and municipal sports meetings, winning prizes almost every time.

As they became more confident, they wanted to challenge themselves and came up with the idea of running marathons, considering that the longest distance in the track events is no more than 10,000 meters.

In April 2011, the couple attended Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon and finished it smoothly. Then, in December of the same year, they signed up for 2011 Toray Cup Shanghai International Marathon. Though it was a big challenge, they managed to complete it.

Hu recalled: "I had never run a full marathon before, so I was afraid. I fell and hurt my both feet during the race, however, the paramedics patched me up and I continued running."

Over the years, the couple insist on running 10,000 meters every day, and they have accumulated a mileage of over 40,000 kilometers, longer than one lap around the equator.

They've made many friends through running and inspired lots of young people to join them.

"Many people regard me as their role model," said Hu. Therefore, every time he takes part in a race, he insists on finishing it.

From Hu's point of view, no matter what age it is, the marathon spirit of fighting to the end is essential. The couple stick to a motto on the wall of their house to inspire themselves: "Life is a marathon".

Marathons not only bring the couples happiness and health, but also represent their long-lasting relationship. They promise to each other to keep running and to celebrate a diamond wedding anniversary together.

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