Beyond A Test of Endurance

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Every run has a reason. Each year, more than 3,000 runners from 81 EMBA/MBA schools and organizations push their limits and embark on the Gobi Desert Challenge for a 108-kilometer run over the course of four days to seek for the answer to the ultimate question—what am I running for?

Runners risk their lives to go on this journey along the Silk Road, and many also return to challenge themselves once more, year after year. After persisting for days, the difference between the champion and the runner-up may be less than one minute.

Ten inspirational runners from the Geshishan team won the championship this year, enduring both physical and mental challenges while running from sunrise to sunset. Fierce wind, sandstorms and extreme temperatures, ranging from -15°C to 40°C, did not stop them from crossing the finish line together as the winning team. Their championship was built from mutual trust, understanding and support in one another.

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Yu Zhong from the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance was inspired by his girlfriend Mu Qidan to run and take on the Gobi Desert Challenge. Known as “Desert Rose,” Mu was a part of last year’s champion team. Yu ran this year as a test to prove his potential, with plans to propose to the champion runner after the event. They ran together this year, creating memories while challenging themselves. Motivated by her teammates’ support and synergy last year, Mu returned to run again with the goal of helping others overcome obstacles and complete the race through her team leader role.

A-team captain Jin Yuqing, from the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, took on the Gobi Desert Challenge for the fourth time this year. The military-trained Jin had an established track record of long-distance running, but he still lost consciousness during last year’s race. Instead of preventing him from running, the experience pushed him to continue striving for his goals. More than just a race for him, Jin treated the Gobi Desert Challenge as the start of his personal transformation—he was determined to start fresh and grow physically and mentally during moments of persistence.of Business,

Even though seasoned runner Dong Yue, from Carnegie Mellon University, has completed over 100 marathons, he was still driven to join this challenge through his desire to explore and attempt new experiences. The immense size of the desert allowed him much more room to explore than his usual races. In comparison to running marathons individually, Dong valued the connection he built through the Gobi Desert Challenge the most—the run was a combination of teamwork and willpower, where each member must fully commit to the event.

Running for reasons beyond the distance, these runners achieved their individuals goals while winning the championship. The unity of teamwork and personal drive resulted in their well-deserved victory. In between facing challenges in the desert, they were able to connect with each other and grow together, mentally and physically as runners and people. Every run has a reason—what’s yours?

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