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Hamburg to Shanghai: German man plans to run 12,000 km along Silk Road

(People's Daily Online)    14:09, March 23, 2017

Kai Markus Xiong on his long journey from Germany to China. (People's Daily/Guan Kejiang)

Kai Markus Xiong, 44, is currently somewhere between his native Germany and China, several days into his planned journey along the ancient Silk Road. Xiong started his super marathon in Hamburg, Germany on March 12. He plans to run through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, concluding his journey in Shanghai by November of this year.

The journey covers a distance of 12,000 kilometers, largely following the ancient Silk Road route. Xiong is scheduled to run 50 to 70 kilometers a day, and the whole journey will take 240 days. Local media reported the he is the first runner to attempt this route on foot.

Xiong has set up a website for his marathon: runmysilkroad.com. He posted on the website that the great "culture marathon" will include four goals: build a cultural bridge across eight countries, encourage social responsibility, motivate young people to pursue their goals and work against prejudice.

Xiong's running path from Germany to China along the Silk Road. (Photo/runmysilkroad.com)

Xiong has a strong interest in China. His grandparents used to tell him stories about China, encouraging him to keep an open mind about other cultures and people. Xiong has also been to China many times, and feels conflicted over his conception of the country -- profound history and culture, fast development, innovative and high-quality manufacturer -- with the distrust many Westerners feel toward it.

Xiong decided to draw attention to China with his Silk Road marathon, and hopefully change some opinions. He plans to use Chinese-made equipment and clothing on the whole journey to prove that Chinese products can withstand tough conditions. He has also arranged many cultural interludes during the journey to inform the world about Chinese culture, society and products.

The journey is meant to show respect for China's long history and support for the Belt and Road Initiative, Xiong explained.

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I hope my footprints can connect Germany and China and open a door for the world to know China," he added.

Xiong's Silk Road run has won over many supporters. Olaf Scholz, mayor of Hamburg, held a farewell party for Xiong on March 9. The mayor noted that Hamburg and Shanghai are partner cities, and praised Xiong's devotion to enhancing cultural exchange between Germany and China.

Volunteers have formed a team to help Xiong along the way. He is accompanied by a friend and experienced adventurer Victor Neubauer, who will transport most of the equipment and food in a Volkswagen Beetle and attached caravan.

According to Xiong, China is really his second hometown. He married a Chinese woman, and their son is only 1 year old. Besides listening to German and Chinese music, Xiong also plans to study Chinese children's songs during the journey. He will sing the song "Two Tigers" to his son when he arrives in China. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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