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'Backman' to join 17-day German marathon

'Backman' to join 17-day German marathon

Tony Hsueh, dubbed "Backman" for his method of running backward, disclosed yesterday that he would take part in a 17-day marathon in Germany next month.
"I will show to the world that Taiwanese athletes are not just good at baseball or Tae Kwon Do, but at running too. I take part in these races in the hope of promoting our country around the globe and hopefully, with my unique way of 'running backward,' I can encourage foreign athletes to come to our beautiful island," Hsueh said.
"He is a real hero who practices with total vitality," said an officer surnamed Ho of the Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council, which held a press conference yesterday to see off Hsueh.
The 58-year-old runner said that he used to be a successful international hotel manager who seldom cared about his health, but twenty years ago after recovering from a serious liver disease, he started jogging backward.
"I began to look after my health and started to pick up running after recovering from illness. I learned about backward running from a foreign magazine and decided to try it," he said.
He earned his nickname "Backman" after completing a 1988 marathon in New York City's Central Park by running backward, and continued to enter marathons in this unique way. His challenge in Germany will mark his 160th backward run.
Long way to go
Kicking off on September 10, the 1205 kilometers of the Deutschlandlauf 2007 is a 17-day marathon across Germany that starts from the northeastern island of Kap Arkona and finishes in a small southwestern town called Loerrach situated on the border of Switzerland, according to the press release issued by SAC.
A total of 46 runners will take part in the marathon this year with Hsueh being the only Taiwanese and the only runner that will run backwards.
"It will be hard for me to run in the marathon backward since I have to constantly check the route marked with green chalk, which is easy to miss even when you are running forward," Hsueh said.
The dirt road in the Schwarzwald will be another great challenge for the backward run, Backman said.
"When I do the backward run, I have to focus so that I can feel the road with the soles and the heels of my feet, however, it is harder to do so on mud," he said.
After the lengthy ordeal in Germany, "Backman" will take a short break before leaving for Berlin to join the 34th real Berlin Marathon Inline-Skating competition on September 29 and the next day's Berlin Marathon.
Hsueh admitted that he was a little bit worried about the inline skating marathon because he didn't have enough time to practice skating backward, but he will do his best.
To make it known to other competitors and spectators that he is from Taiwan, Hsueh will take a large flag with him, which he will wave while running and skating.
"I believe this is a good way to show everyone our country, I always do this when I race abroad and have only been stopped once - that was a marathon in Beijing," he said with a smile.
"There are many advantages of this kind of running. It can help you to improve your balance and it can better train the muscles in your back, which is good for your body because normally people don't exercise them much," Hsueh said.
He encouraged everyone to try backward running, but he also warned of the dangers.
"The moment you lose your concentration, it is easy to fall. I still fall sometimes. And it is also easy to step on snakes or dogs, which are two of the most dangerous things in Taiwan for runners," he remarked.
He will leave Taiwan on September 5 for Berlin to climatize to the cold weather there first before heading to Kap Arkona for the upcoming race.


Updated : 2021-06-13 22:14 GMT+08:00