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Chinese deliveryman chases Paris marathon dream

By Guan Xiaomeng | | Updated: 2024-06-24 10:18
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A screenshot of CCTV shows Luan Yushuai is being interviewed

A deliveryman in Beijing has secured a spot in the Mass Participation Marathon, a special event set to run alongside the Olympic marathon at the upcoming Paris Olympics, making him one of 40,048 runners selected from all over the world.

Luan Yushuai, 39, has been delivering packages for nine years. Known as the "fastest deliveryman" by netizens, Luan gained recognition in 2021 by winning first place among nonprofessional runners in the Beijing Half Marathon. Now, he is set to participate in the public marathon at the Paris Olympics, a new event open to amateur runners.

Luan described the moment he received his acceptance email on Chinese New Year's Eve: "It was from the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee. The email was in English, so I quickly translated it. It read, 'Congratulations, Yushuai, you have been selected for the Olympics.' I was ecstatic."

Luan began preparing for the marathon in 2021 after learning about the registration process. To qualify, participants had to accumulate 100,000 points by the end of last year through various physical activities like running, swimming, walking and cycling, and then be selected in a global lottery.

"Running, swimming, walking and cycling all count for points," Luan said. "I train for about two hours each day."

A screenshot of CCTV shows Luan Yushuai competes in the 2022 Beijing Marathon.

Growing up in the mountainous areas of Ji'an, Jilin province, Luan developed a natural aptitude for physical activity. A National May 1 Labor Medal winner last year and a torch bearer for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, he said it is possible to set a good example in any trade.

He ranks top in deliveries among close peers, managing to deliver as many as 600 packages a day during "double eleven" online shopping peaks. One of his frequent customers was amazed by Luan's speed, because he can finish the delivery between ringing to summon the ground entrance guard to the receiver’s appearance at their door on the third floor.

Combining his work with training, Luan often delivers heavy items like water and rice to enhance his strength, avoiding elevators whenever possible. His daily routine includes climbing stairs and walking significantly more than the average person.

Luan's marathon journey began in 2017, when his company recommended him for the Beijing Marathon. He completed the race in just over four hours, earning the nickname "running king" from his colleagues.

With just over a month until the Paris Olympics, Luan continues to train rigorously, running 300 to 400 kilometers a month. For Luan, running and his delivery job have become indispensable and mutually fulfilling parts of his life. Approaching 40, a time when many athletes consider retirement, Luan feels he is on the brink of a new chapter.

In the summer of 2020, the Paris Olympic Organizing Committee announced the Mass Participation Marathon registration process, with a lottery ultimately selecting 40,048 runners from over 800,000 registrants worldwide.

The public marathon, to be run on the same course as the Olympic marathon, will take place on the night of Aug 10.

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