Auckland racewalker Fan Zhou is on a mission to get more Chinese athletes competing in Kiwi marathons.
New Zealand hosts some of the world’s most renowned running events and Auckland travel agent Zhou expects “running tourism” to get more popular with Chinese visitors.
At 54 years old, Zhou herself is an accomplished racewalker, having participated in the Auckland and Waiheke Island half marathons. Next month she will take on the 21.1km New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Queenstown Half Marathon for the second time and embrace the new role of athlete ambassador for the premium real estate brand.
“Many of my clients are interested in running marathons here, particularly the Queenstown Half Marathon which is said to be the most beautiful and scenic run in the world,” she says. “I think we will see more and more Chinese coming to New Zealand specifically to participate in these events in the future.”
Almost 100 Chinese are registered to race this year so far, consistent with last year’s number.
Zhou won the Walker 50-59 Years category in the New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Half Marathon last year with a time of two hours, 30 minutes. It was an impressive result for the mother-of-two, who only started competitive walking three years ago and completed her first official event – the Auckland Half Marathon – at 52 years old. Now she hopes to beat her time at this year’s sold-out Queenstown race on Saturday, November 17.
“My end goal is just to finish, beat my previous time and enjoy the views,” she says. “When it starts to get difficult I just tell myself ‘you can do it’ and that stops me from doubting myself so I don't give up or feel discouraged during the race. I’ll just try my best, keep a positive mindset and be happy with whatever result I get.”
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