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Running towards light - story of a cancer-riddled marathon runner

Pub Date:2020-07-13 09:10 Source:Xinhua

Three months passed. He was still alive.

This greatly boosted his confidence. But how did the man, who was not really a sports fan, make up his mind to run a marathon? Neither his wife nor his son truly knew the answer.

"He might have been inspired on one of his walks on the Shungeng Mountain nearby, when he encountered some runners training for a marathon," his son He Shuai assumed.

Whatever the reason might be, He was ready to write a brand new chapter of his life.


"Unless it rained or snowed, he would run every day in the morning and in the evening, about 30km altogether. This was pretty much even for a healthy person," recounted Liu Kaifu, president of the Huainan Marathon Association, whom He turned to in 2017 to begin his marathon journey.

But He did not tell his wife about his plan. Zhang only noticed that her husband always went out "for a walk" for a very long time.

In October 2017, He completed a half marathon in his home city, the first ever in his life.

Of course, secretly.

"I was so furious that I even wanted to stamp on him," was Zhang's reaction when she was informed.

"Even until this day, after he passed away, I do not fully support his decision to run marathons," Zhang said. "We had countless quarrels over this."

"I told him again and again 'You are overburdening your body. This will harm your immunity. Your body can not take it.' But he just wouldn't listen. From time to time, he would repeat the same words 'I know my body.'"

Surely he did.

He was the one that bore the "sharp pain" of taking every step, as he told his attending doctor Xie Jun, when he continued to push forward, to a point, the pain would disappear, he added.

Even so, Xie was one of the opposers.

"We would not allow such extensive workout, especially after his cancer had already spread to his bones. This meant his bones were extremely fragile. If another runner bumped him or he stumbled, it could cause paralysis," Xie explained. "But he insisted, even if his family were all against it."

In fact, as an experienced doctor that understood well the pain He was enduring, Xie never thought his patient could finish a marathon.

"Even sitting still hurts for patients with stage 4 cancer, let alone running," Xie explained. "He was different from other patients; he had an extremely strong will power, a powerful aspiration."

Through the Marathon Association, and sometimes on his own, He began to run marathons in nearby cities and later travelled to other provinces, traveling by the cheapest possible trains and staying in the cheapest possible hotels.

"I was against it at first. He needed to receive periodical treatment and it would further harm his health if he could not eat well or get good rest away from home. What if he stumbles?" his son He Shuai said. "My mother and I, we just wanted him to be safe."

But He Ming wanted to hold his life in his own hands. He set for himself a goal of running 100 marathons.

"I would rather die on a marathon course than on a hospital bed," he argued.

He invited his wife to travel with him and watch him run, feeling the beats of life when hundreds of feet stepped on the ground, firm and steady.

"He tried to persuade me again and again, saying if I were to be at the site, I would also feel the impulse to run after him," Zhang recalled.


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