After 111 days, Kevin Lin from Taiwan completed the ultra-marathon across Sahara desert, the largest desert in the world, on 2/20/2007 with other two runners.
This ultra-marathon was first proposed by Charlie Engle, who went to Matt Damon's production company (LivePlanet) to persuade them to film a documentary for it. This film documented not only the endurance to run the ultra-marathon, but also the nomadic people in Sahara desert and their daily struggle to find water. Another goal of the ultra-marathon is raising awareness for the clean water nonprofit group H2O Africa.
There are three runners, Charlie from USA, Kevin from Taiwan, and Ray Zahab from Canada. Their original plan was running 50 miles per day for 80 days (4000 miles in total) (the length for regular marathon is 26 miles). It began in Senegal, went across Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and ended in Egypt . The runners and their support team had to negotiate when they met treacherous terrain, including minefields, as well as risk of disease, war-torn regions and bureaucracy. A series of detours added more than 500 miles (800 km) to the route. They finally finished the ultra-marathon in 111 days for 4562 miles (7300 km).
In Kevin's website, 14 supporters from Taiwan went to Egypt and wrote diary about their journey. Some of them rented a car and met the runners in Salloum, Egypt on 2/12/2007 and ran a few miles with them later. They were excited about how the documentary group love their yellow T-shorts for this event. They said, 'although we only joined their trip for such a short time, we have learned how hard to live without water. It is great they finished it!'
Kevin is not tall, and his father demanded him to study hard to go to college. However, Kevin chose marathon, and left home for it. At the age of 15, Kevin brought a package to visit Ruei-Gen Pan for marathon training. Later, he entered Taipei physical education college. During his career in ultra-marathon, Ruei-Gen Pan is his adviser and always provide the greatest support in these competitions.
Kevin's story encourages many Taiwanese. Confessor's lounge said that through blogging, more people will know their story about how human beings create history.
On the other hand, Schee talked about why Kevin Lin had difficulty to find financial support from our government or our society. He said 'ultra-marathon is too complicate to set standards for it. It is hard to say if IAAF will set a category for it in the future (note made by author: IAAF sanctions ultra-marathons). If the world governing body of track and field does not recognize it as a competition category, the competitors will face huge difficulty to find financial support.'
Spiritual awakening talked about how Kevin Lin open a window for Taiwan to the world:
We always hope through diplomatic methods Taiwan can be connected to the world. But now we have seen how Ang Lee in Oscar ceremony, Chien-Ming Wang in Yankee, and Kevin Lin can open a door for Taiwan to the world. When using diplomatic methods faces huge obstacles, maybe we can try softer ways to reach our goal. For example, our culture and athelects.
There is a movie about the Taipei 24-hr ultra-marathon in 2000 that many Taiwanese bloggers shared with each other after Kevin Lin came back from Egypt.
If you are interested in how Kevin faces the difficulty of ultra-marathon, he recorded his life in his blog, including running ultra-marathon in Golbi in 2006 and Sahara this year. Now he is planning for the rock and ice ultra-marathon in Yellowknife, Canada this March. This time, there will be three Taiwanese run with him. Good luck and take care!