My name is Paul M.M. Vermeulen and I live in Shanghai, although I was born in the northern part of Belgium (Flanders). I am a 49 years old male and I work as a senior vice president for AIG in Greater China and South East Asia. I have been a runner since 1989 and I belong to the Managers Marathon Club in Belgium, a team counting approximately 150 runners.
I run 3 to 4 times a week, an average of 10 kilometers each time, usually on the same course. I do not eat anything special before my run. Runners in China run in all types of weather conditions, while I prefer running under a light rain. Summers here are hot and humid (June through September). When I run I wear tights and T-shirt; I carry a bottle in the summer, and reflective gear in the winter. While I run I do not listen to music. I own two pair of running shoes. I used to read "Runner's world", but this is not available in English here.
In China running is popular and practiced by men and women alike (no dogs), but Tai Chi is more popular (this is a form of exercise all Chinese do in the morning). There are no religious activities, cultural activities, taboos nor philosophies that affect running in China, but cars and traffic pose some potential problems. I used to live in South Africa and there I sometimes saw snakes on the running trail (small ones anyway). But in China... in China beware of traffic!
I run in organized races when available, and they are usually 15-20 kilometers long. The entry fee is cheap here: between 2 and 3 U.S. dollars. No race packet for the participants, but there is a medal for big events. Water is provided at the refreshment points during organized races. I ran in 32 countries altogether, with marathons in the United States of America, Holland, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium (18 marathon finished and countless half marathons). I make it a point to run every time I visit a new country. When running in another country, other than the climate, only the atmosphere in the various cities is different. I participated in the marathons of New York, Köln, Tromsö, London, Dublin, Paris, Orleans, Amsterdam, Venice, Rome, Etten-Leur, Kortrijk-Brugge, Turku, Reims, and Echternach. I have a personal best of 3:12 on the marathon and 1:21 on the half distance.
My most amazing run was in Tromsö, a small town at 400 kilometers from the North Pole. They organize a race called the "Midnight Sun Marathon". It takes place the first Saturday of July, and at that time of year it doesn't get dark there. The race starts at 10 at night and unless you break the world record, you'll be running at midnight. There are very few participants (approximately 350), so after only a couple of kilometers you are running all by yourself, no spectators outside of the little town, and the year I did it, the weather was bad, a little stormy. So as from the fifteenth kilometer I was all alone till the finish. I arrived after 3:32 and was 63rd in the race. It was a strange feeling to sit outside in the middle of the night after the marathon with the (sun) light still on.
Run The Planet would like to thank Paul Vermeulen from China for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.