China’s ultra-distance runner Chen to take on cross-country skiing
Published: Nov 18, 2018 09:33 PM

Photo: Courtesy of SECA

Photo: Courtesy of SECA

China's ultra-distance runner Chen Penbin has switched his focus to cross-country skiing, as he is seeking a new challenge in life after turning 40.

Chen, who was sensational in completing the intercontinental utra-­marathon series in 2014 before taking up 100 marathons in 100 days in 2015, belongs in the top of echelon of stamina greats. "Previously, I ran for myself instead of the country. Now I want to do something different," Chen told the Global Times.

Chen's 100-marathon campaign ended with him bearing a flag with signatures from people all over the cities he ran through, arriving in Beijing just weeks before the capital city was named the 2022 Winter Olympics host.

Compared to China's strong dominance in the Summer Olympics, winter sports are relatively new to many, especially for Chinese from the southern part of the country where snow is rarely seen.

"The biggest challenge for me is the techniques. I have to start from scratch," said Chen, who has been training with the national cross-country skiing team for a month.

Chen was born in coastal Yuhuan in East China's Zhejiang Province, where he made a living as a fisherman before taking up ultra-distance running.

Chang Xi, the fitness coach with the national cross-country skiing team, who also accompanied Chen during his 100-marathon campaign, said Chen's outstanding stamina helped him make it onto the national cross-country team.

"He never gives up without a shot," Chang said of Chen's determination in picking up skiing.

Cross-country skiing is considered a sport which requires certain high stamina, especially in its long-distance races.

"It will never be an easy thing to shift from one sport to the other, but what is life without challenges?" Chen said. "Though I may not win medals, I hope I can at least win respect."

Chen will travel to Finland to join his national team teammates who are in the Nordic country for training.

Chen is not the first high-profile Chinese to turn his craft from a summer sport to winter sport, as sprinter Zhang Peimeng has switched from 100 meters to skeleton.