Beijing Doctor Runners' tenmember team for last weekend's BMW Hood to Coast China Relay. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY
Having bravely battled COVID-19 this year, it was only fitting that a team of doctors took center-stage in the 2020 BMW Hood to Coast China Relay last weekend.
The Beijing Doctor Runners group has never missed the race since its inaugural edition in 2017, and this year entered six teams－five five-member squads for the 147-kilometer course and one ten-strong team for the longer 234.3-km challenge.
All of the members of the ten-member team fought on the frontline against the COVID-19 epidemic in Beijing.
Some of them supported the epidemic fight in Wuhan, the epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak; others worked for months at Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital, which was built in 2003 to treat SARS patients and received COVID-19 patients earlier this year.
Dr. Lai Shouyong, of Beijing Chest Hospital and the leader of the ten-member team, was one of the heroes who saved lives at Xiaotangshan.
"The Hood to Coast China Relay added a new category of race that required ten runners with two cars to finish," said Dr. Lai, who worked at Xiaotangshan for about two months.
"The ultimate running challenge for over 24 hours was a huge test of a runner's mentality, the cohesion of the team and people's perseverance.
"The spirit needed on the course was exactly the spirit we needed to fight against the epidemic. We should never give up easily during the fight.
"The return of the relay this year was also significant. It shows the success of our fight against COVID-19 after the great effort from everyone in China. Thanks to that, we were able to reunite on the running course."
Lai told China Daily that he had participated in the Hood to Coast China Relay in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, for three years, but this year was really special because of the pandemic, which forced the cancellation and postponement of sports events worldwide.
With the epidemic under control in China, Lai and his teammates were thrilled to learn that the Hood to Coast China Relay would not be added to that long list.
Finding time to practice together, however, was almost impossible due to the doctors' extra-heavy workload these days.
"Honestly speaking, I was also nervous when I met my first COVID-19 patient. We were under huge pressure on the frontline. So returning to the relay was a great release for us－to see the blue sky and huge wind turbine on the grasslands," said Lai.
Dr. Zhang Yong, the deputy head of the Beijing Doctor Runners who works in Peking University Hospital of Stomatology, heaped praise on the ten-member squad.
"All of the runners who fought on the frontline against the COVID-19 epidemic had great pressure at that time," said Zhang.
"But with their professionalism and great skills, they finished their mission. It's beautiful that they decided to go to the frontline at the most dangerous time.
"They sacrificed a lot, and they warmed Beijing's winter with their passion, perseverance and great devotion.
"Inviting them to participate in the relay was the best reward we can offer this summer. I hope they enjoyed it as they are as beautiful as all the flowers of the vast grassland."