The international students at the university that I am attending for learning Chinese were asked to participate in the university sports day activities. I decided I would give it a go in the 5000 meter race.
Sichuan University has an all school sports day every fall and the international students are invited to attend. For this I had to have a health assessment to make sure that I would not die as part of the activities. The health assessment was a marathon of practicing patience with the local bureaucracy. As is usually the case the first thing to do was pay the clerk and get a receipt to give to the nurse in order for them to give me the assessment. I then had to fill out the form which was in Chinese which is to be expected since it is in China. After filling out the form and handing it to the clerk I was then able to wait in line for the health assessment. After waiting for a about an hour I was finally allowed into the exam room where there was, what I surmise to be, an EKG. After making me roll up my pant legs and my shirt they attached multiple electrodes to my body and recorded my "health?". I was then sent with a print out to see the doctor who reviews the "health?" of the individual. After several minutes of confused review the doctor made me go back to the health examination room for what I surmised would be a reexamination but to my relief was only a correction to the data that was taken earlier. The doctor approved the health assessment with a pass and I was sent to the desk again to have it chopped (nothing is valid with out a red stamp in China), to my surprise the nurse asked me for the necessary picture that is required to be attached to the form which I was not made aware of. Luckily I had some at home so I was able to complete the process the next day.
The race was on saturday but the opening ceremony was on friday for which they canceled classes. The opening ceremony included members of each school wearing matching uniforms parading through the university stadium, in the rain. Luckily they handed out plastic ponchos for us to wear while we were waiting to be dismissed from the field while the other students marched in. It was all very exciting.
The actual race was actually one of my best times. The race was on a 400 meter track so of course I expected to get a good time but I was thinking of something in the 25 minute range. However I held a decent pace and was able to run it in under 24 minutes. And more importantly I wasn't last. There were at least 5 other people behind me. Of course the kids who won ran at a much faster pace, lapping me twice but who's counting. The best part is that I got my own Chinese university track uniform which I haven't taken off since.