Team Esquel Partners for Seventh Year
By Melanie Ho
Even under the afternoon sun, China’s Wang Song was not hot. Though he admitted difficulty in getting through the 99 km Stage 5, he maintained that the weather and scorching sun were not too bad. It was, as he said, better than being stuck in snow.
As one of three runners sponsored by long-time RacingThePlanet Gobi March partners Esquel, Wang was running his first ever 4 Deserts event, along with Chen Yu and Patrick Wei. While Wang and Chen work for the Esquel Textile Company, Wei works with AIA Group Hong Kong. The three form “Team China”, a tradition that began in 2004 and continues strong today.
Esquel, one of Xinjiang’s major textile manufacturers has been a strong supporter of RacingThePlanet and, specifically, the Gobi March. For its part, RacingThePlanet proudly supports the YL Yang Foundation, set up in honour of the late YL Yang, a relation of Wei.
All three athletes are competing in their first-ever 4 Deserts race and for Wang, who has worked for Esquel for four years, the opportunity to come race in the Gobi Desert was one he could not pass up.
“I wanted to do this because I wanted to challenge myself,” Wang, 24, said. “I have to say that when I crossed the Stage 5 finish line, I was overcome with emotion and moved by what I had accomplished.”
For Wei, experiencing the Gobi March has been a goal on his to-do list for awhile.
Over Chinese New Year, Wei got chatting with his aunt who runs Esquel and from there he was signed up to be part of the team. Wei, 48, has not regretted the experience.
“It’s been fun,” Wei said. “I wanted to finish every stage. Stage 5 was a bit of a challenge but the rewards at the end were more than fruitful.”
Wang, from Henan in central China, works in Guang Dong while Chen is the one competitor who is truly competing in a “home” race as he works in Turpan.
As Wang relaxed following his 99 km stage, he said that he began running at 14 and then kept it up during his years of military service. A swimmer and basketball player, Wang has also taken part in provincial track meets, although the Gobi March has been his longest race to date.
“It is pretty difficult because it’s my first time,” Wang said. “But I am enjoying myself and I am happy to be here.”
Wei said he would definitely be back, he continued “I don’t think you close the door. Everybody has a debrief as they walk back from the finish line to their tents. Once the pain goes away and the euphoria continues, it gets easier to do another one.”