China trip spurs marathon

A quality manager from Belper was inspired to take part in his first ever marathon while working on an assignment in China.

Steve Mather, who works for Derby train-maker Bombardier, decided to sign-up for the Shanghai race after a chance conversation with a neighbour.

The 49-year-old, who is part way through a three-year project in China’s largest city, then embarked on a gruelling training regime before work to prepare for the challenge.

He said: “There seemed to be no reason for not giving it a go, despite the fact that the event was then only five weeks away.

“There was just the slight concern that I had not done any special training and had never run a marathon before,“

For 30 days leading-up to the race Steve got up early in the morning and ran around Century Park in the Pudong district of the city where he lives, before catching the metro to work.

“ Vicky, my wife, complained about the bathroom smelling likea football changing room, as muscle rub was applied to counter my aching limbs,” Steve said.

“So, during this training phase, we also fitted in a long weekend break with daughter Joy in Hong Kong.”

On the day Steve, along with a record entry of 18,000 other competitors, gathered early for the start of the 42 kilometre race, located on the Bund, a famous Shanghai landmark on the west side of the Huangpu river, with amazing views across to the skyscrapers of the Shanghai business district.

“It was a cool day, and the initial part of the run went well,” said Steve. “

“I had set myself the target of a four-hour finish. I felt good and was well up to it at the 30 kilometre mark, but I then hit the wall, as they say, and the rest of the run proved to be tough.

“I found mutual solace with a guy from Melbourne, Australia, who was also struggling, and we helped each other to get through the last quarter of the run, which finished at the Shanghai Stadium.”

Steve completed the course in eleven minutes over his four-hour target.

He added: “It was a brilliant experience, which developed great camaraderie with other runners. But it was far harderthan I ever envisaged.”

The 2012 Shanghai Marathon was won by the Kenya runner, Sylvester Kimeli Teimet, in two hours and nine minutes.

Bombardier’s relationship with China began more than 50 years ago.

A wide range of the company’s rail transportation and aerospace products are currently in service in the Chinese market.