馬拉松明星的逆襲

張嘉哲領跑破紀錄
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2014 / 2月

文‧林奇伯 圖‧金宏澔


2012年倫敦奧運馬拉松選手張嘉哲,因為「遞水事件」所展現的好EQ,讓他一炮而紅,成為台灣新世代長跑明星。

有別於林義傑、陳彥博等人所掀起的超級馬拉松自我挑戰精神,張嘉哲發揮個人魅力,將人氣拉回沉寂已久的傳統田徑競賽主場,為選手們加油。他還以「成功不必在我」的態度,在1萬公尺比賽中加速領跑,激發同儕潛能,打破紀錄。

為了延續倫敦奧運「永續經營」的精神,他積極筆耕,傳播跑步的樂趣與知識,各種「張嘉哲語錄」被網友整理後,在網路上瘋傳。

被自己戲稱為「歷屆奧運最多名次國手」的張嘉哲,到底有什麼魅力?為什麼會變成奧運明星中最閃耀的鑽石?


去年12月初,張嘉哲剛參加完日本福岡國際馬拉松賽返國,臉上還帶有賽後的疲累感,但例行訓練卻沒有因此停頓。

每天清晨6點起床,獨自從位於新北市永和區的家門出發,跑過福和橋,繞行台灣大學校園2圈後,再循原路返家,總長15公里。

傍晚4點,張嘉哲又出門,來到福和橋頭的河堤上,與一群大學選手群練,從夕陽中一路跑到黑夜裡,路燈為他們拉出長長的影子。

這種細緻又紀律的訓練,已持續十幾年,幾乎沒有間斷。在看似枯燥的練習中,張嘉哲每天都有新體驗,每天也都花至少3小時在網路上記錄心得;身體力行的文字有股說服力,追蹤他動態的網友也跟著心意更新而變化。

與其哭泣,不如不斷變革

「張嘉哲風潮」開始於2012年倫敦奧運,馬拉松為我國選手參賽的最後一個項目,當轉播鏡頭拍到張嘉哲獨自一人出賽,跑過飲料站竟沒有任何人遞水給他,運動迷頓時一陣譁然,認為代表隊冷落了張嘉哲,讓他孤軍奮戰。

輿論排山倒海,許多人將中華隊表現不如預期的失落感全都投射到張嘉哲踽踽獨行的身影上。但很快地,張嘉哲就透過臉書發表一段說明,表示沒有人遞水是因為人手不足與自己生涯習慣使然,不要為他感到抱歉,他玩得很開心,「台灣的體育一直以來都有很多要加強的部分,但在這還須努力的時期,與其哭泣,不如不斷地繼續transition(變革)。」

充滿感性和幽默的語氣,不只化解了一場尷尬,也讓許多人開始留意到這位鮮為人知的長跑好手。返國後,走到哪裡都有人開玩笑要遞水給他,要求合影,然後上傳網路炫耀;一時間,張嘉哲那張桀傲又親和的臉暴紅了。

「倫敦奧運標榜永續經營的觀念,場館使用過後可以拆卸再組裝利用,避免蚊子館現象;親臨現場,讓我思考如何在自己身上延續這股精神。」張嘉哲說,他孤獨地跑了十多年,才終於等到高人氣,非善用不可;他希望於紀政、楊傳廣之後就消失在田徑場上的觀眾目光能夠重新回轉,並藉此提高運動員榮譽感,大家不要只想著拿金牌,還要不斷打破紀錄。

確實,近十多年來,台灣的大小田徑賽事都出現兩個奇特現象。第一是沒人觀賽,即使開放免費入場,觀眾席仍然空蕩蕩,電視也缺乏轉播意願。第二是長跑選手志在奪取金牌,領先集團互相觀望,沒有人願意擔當吃力不討好的領跑角色,多設法保存體力在最後幾圈衝刺,因此1萬公尺全國紀錄已高懸十幾年無法突破。

領跑哲學,成功不必在我

為了改變這樣的文化,原已轉型專攻馬拉松的張嘉哲,特別報名參加2013年全國運動會1萬公尺競賽,並且親筆寫信邀請媒體、贊助商出席,號召粉絲到現場觀賽。果然,奇事發生了。

2013年10月20日傍晚,台北市田徑場觀眾席湧入數百人,爭睹1萬公尺決賽,近年罕見。

鳴槍開跑後,馬上出現張嘉哲、蔣介文、何盡平、王秋竣等4位選手的領先集團,張嘉哲一馬當先拉快速度,不讓其他人有磨蹭的機會,一直到最後3,000公尺時終於體力用盡,被其他人超前。最後蔣介文以30分07秒81成績打破全國運動會紀錄,也創造他個人生涯的最佳紀錄。

張嘉哲只獲得第四名,但現場卻歡呼聲不斷,高喊「張嘉哲,真男人!」因為他示範了運動家不斷超越紀錄的精神。

「對我來說,領跑代表的是『突破』,不只是突破個人格局,也在突破台灣田徑界的既有戰術觀念。」張嘉哲說,運動員應該要克服失去金牌的恐懼,挑戰紀錄,才算是真勇敢。

長跑家庭,力挺超越自我

馬拉松選手的黃金年齡為30~35歲,1983年次的張嘉哲正邁入這個巔峰,他的一舉一動,也正在形塑台灣民眾的馬拉松觀念。

張嘉哲出身熱愛長跑的家庭,父親張寶財從30歲開始愛上跑步,進而和同好們組成「和諧長跑俱樂部」,相互砥礪。媽媽和哥哥為了強健體魄,也養成每天長跑的習慣,張嘉哲則興趣缺缺。

直到國中青春期,張嘉哲個性開始叛逆,父母親擔心他變壞,百般勸說他加入俱樂部。「國中功課很不好,周末又得去補習班一整天,心情鬱悶至極;因此轉念,如果因為跑步而不必補習也滿好的,於是勉強答應老爸的要求,」張嘉哲說,開跑當天是4月1日,爸爸還開玩笑問,「不會是愚人節唬人的遊戲吧?」

才練了兩星期,他就報名參加Nike路跑賽,在兩百個參賽者中排名一百多名。爸爸一臉火大地說:「怎麼跑那麼慢?」張嘉哲開心回答:「我還贏了一百多人啊!」

這一跑,改變了張嘉哲的人生。比賽時的熱血氛圍與賽後的成就感,讓他每天都想無止境地奔跑下去。在父親積極訓練下,高3時奪下全國中等學校運動會5,000公尺與1萬公尺金牌;大2時參加世界大學運動會1萬公尺和半程馬拉松比賽。

為求長遠計,大3時張嘉哲開始轉型跑馬拉松,接連締造不錯的成績。2005年先奪下全國運動會男子馬拉松金牌,2008年在日本防府讀賣馬拉松賽奪下第3名,2012年北韓平壤萬景臺馬拉松賽拿下第7名,並以2小時16秒06的成績達到奧運參賽B標,獲得奧運國手資格。

先求帥,再求快

有別於其他運動,馬拉松特別講究自我配速與體能挑戰,即使經驗再老到的選手,每次遇到撞牆期,都難免自我懷疑,難過到想放棄;就算深知自己的節奏,每回有人超越過你,都得按捺住心裡的波動,不能隨他人起舞。因此,馬拉松具有無比的魅力,永遠有未曾體驗過的心情等著跑者去經歷。

在台灣長跑熱潮下,張嘉哲的部落格成為台灣馬拉松愛好者的最愛,更有熱心者將他講過的話整理成一條條的「張嘉哲語錄」,廣為流傳。例如:

「馬拉松的意義是,如何讓自己在這麼辛苦的過程中,享受到中間的樂趣。」

「馬拉松意在追尋更遠的風景,和心無旁騖的前進。」

「我們跑馬拉松,常常要回到初衷,當初你為什麼跑這個馬拉松。」

「跑步讓我們知道透過努力可以變得更強、更快,也使得我們在自覺中明白,身體非鐵打鋼造,而產生自律與自控,安然處在謙卑之中!」

張嘉哲自己則最喜歡這一句:「先求帥再求快,跑輸沒關係,很帥就好。」他解釋,每個運動員都要為自己營造一個角色形象與身體意象,先喜歡自己,才能由外而內不斷提升自我,享受良好的氛圍。

所以,一早起床發現是下雨天,別人先哀聲嘆氣,他則想著,「下雨天跑步不就是在過電影人生嗎?電影不都這樣演嗎?」出大太陽時,有人會抱怨太過炎熱,他則開心地說,「正好可以戴上太陽眼鏡,好好耍帥一下!」

有愛,才跑得快

這種樂觀又特立獨行的作風,是受父親張寶財長期薰陶的結果。張嘉哲笑著說,老爸比他還驕傲、臭屁,不只教學嚴格,還會為了激勵他而講出「寧可跑到昏倒、死在路上,也不能在半途跳車」的熱血喊話。網友也因為張寶財的幽默感,特別暱稱他「張叔叔」,人氣不輸張嘉哲。

早年張寶財會每天陪練,現在則只在每周兩次的「間歇訓練」中盯場。黃昏時分,來到師範大學分部操場,張寶財頭上戴著攝影紀錄器材,以400公尺為單位,先陪跑100公尺,然後觀察兒子的速度與體能;如此不斷重複,直到父子倆都滿身大汗,舒展一下後,再進入體育館內做重量訓練。

寒風中,張寶財眼神滿是堅毅地說,「不會有教練這樣跟著一起陪跑的,但知道為什麼我會堅持這麼做嗎?因為我同時也是愛他的家長!」

張嘉哲也承襲了這種「愛」,近年來積極以自己的影響力為其他年輕新秀拉抬知名度,製作一系列「我愛○○○(選手姓名)」T恤穿在身上,逢人就說他有多愛這些運動員;因為他深信,與其抱怨政府、企業不支持,還不如讓更多田徑明星紅起來,扭轉低迷態勢,企業自然會以贊助運動員為榮。

「競技運動是一種自我挑戰,也是一種表演,我當然渴望多拿下幾面金牌、再參加2016巴西里約熱內盧奧運,但是我更在意的是把馬拉松的內涵跑出來,讓大家更享受在運動之中!」張嘉哲說。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

The Onliness of a Long-Distance Runner:The Unique Chang Chia-che

Eric Lin /photos courtesy of Chin Hung-hao /tr. by Phil Newell

In Taiwan, Chang Chia-che is a household name. This long-distance running star for the new generation leapt to instant fame when he displayed great composure in the face of the controversial “watering station incident” during the 2012 London Olympics marathon.

Unlike other celebrity runners in Taiwan such as Kevin Lin and Tommy Chen, who have made their names doing ultramarathons that push the mind and body to their absolute limits, ­Chang has turned his high profile toward reviving interest in traditional track and field, which has long been neglected in Taiwan, and toward encouraging athletes in these sports. For example, he displayed remarkable selflessness in a recent 10,000 meter event when he raced out in front as the pacesetter, helping fellow runners to achieve new records.

Aiming to carry on the “sustainable management” spirit of the London games, ­Chang has devoted himself to informing people about running and spreading the word about how pleasurable it can be. Amazingly, a number of his personal observations, collected together by Internet users as “the sayings of ­Chang Chia-che,” have gone viral. What is it about ­Chang that people find so fascinating?


It is early December of 2013, and ­Chang Chia-che has just returned from the international marathon in Fu­ku­oka, Japan. His face still bears traces of post-race exhaustion, but he doesn’t for this reason interrupt his training routine.

He gets up at six o’clock each morning and leaves his home in the ­Yonghe District of New Tai­pei City, right across the river from Tai­pei City. He runs across the Fuhe Bridge, does two laps around the campus of National Taiwan University, and then follows his original route back home, for a total of 15 kilometers.

At four in the afternoon, ­Chang again heads out the door, this time going under the Fuhe Bridge to the roadway that follows the dike next to the Xin­dian River, where he trains with a group of marathoners from university teams. As they lope along through sunset into the dark of night, for an instant a distant streetlight casts long shadows of their forms.

Chang has maintained this meticulous and rigorous schedule for over a decade virtually without interruption. It may appear rather monotonous to the ordinary person, but ­Chang manages to find something new about each and every day, and spends at least three hours a day on line blogging about the new experiences, thoughts, or realizations he has had.

His name is Chang, da-doo run run...

The “­Chang Chia-che craze” started with the London Olympics in 2012. The marathon was the final event for any athlete on the Chinese Tai­pei team, with ­Chang the sole Taiwan runner. As the TV cameras followed ­Chang, he passed the water station belonging to the Chinese Tai­pei team, and viewers could see that it was deserted, with no one there to hand him a bottle of water. This caused an immediate uproar among sports fans, with many accusing the national team of abandoning Chang.

Commentators weighed in with this opinion and that, and many people vented their feelings at the national team’s overall disappointing performance by focusing on this single image. But ­Chang quickly went on Facebook and posted an explanation saying that the reason there was no one there to give him water was that not enough staff people were available, and anyway this had been his customary way of running for his whole career. He said that people needn’t feel sorry for him, and he had been very happy while doing his event. “There have long been many aspects of Taiwan sports that are in need of improvement,” he wrote, “but during this phase when we need to take it up a level, rather than bemoaning the past we should be continuing to push forward with our transition.”

Chang’s remarks, which were written in a touching and lighthearted vein, not only provided closure on this embarrassing episode, they also caused a lot of people to sit up and take notice of this little-known long-distance runner. After returning to Taiwan, everywhere he went people jokingly offered him bottles of water, and he was often asked to take commemorative photos with people who then proudly posted them online. Within a short time, ­Chang’s face—which looks pleasant and affable but also clearly belongs to a man who listens to the beat of his own drum—had become widely known.

Chang says that after running in obscurity for over a decade, he feels it is his duty to use the recognition that has finally come his way for good. He hopes to revive interest in track and field (also called “athletics”), which in the 1960s had briefly spiked in popularity in Taiwan with the success of decathlete Yang ­Chuan-­kuang and hurdler Chi ­Cheng, two unheralded Aboriginal athletes who unexpectedly won Olympic medals for the ROC. ­Chang also wants to raise morale among track and field athletes themselves, and to refocus their attention less on Olympic gold and more on personal, meet, and national records.

Over the past decade or so, two distinct phenomena have characterized track and field events in Taiwan. The first is that no one goes to see them. Even if they are open to the public free of charge, attendance is sparse at best, and no broadcasters are interested in carrying them. The second is that long-distance runners compete against one another for prominence, with no one willing to take on the thankless task of pacesetter. Everyone saves their energy for the final sprint as the end of the race approaches. This is one major reason why the national record for the 10,000 meters has stood unbroken for so long.

Running on empty... for a good cause

In an effort to alter this culture, ­Chang, who had already decided to focus exclusively on marathons, signed up for the 10,000 meters at the 2013 National Games and then personally wrote to media, corporate sponsors, and fans inviting them to come out to the event. Hundreds of curious spectators showed up at Tai­pei Stadium on October 20, 2013, to see the 10,000-meter finals, a crowd of rare size indeed these past few years. They were not disappointed.

When the starting gun was fired, a group composed of ­Chang Chia-che, ­Chiang ­Chieh-wen, and two others immediately pulled out front. ­Chang then picked up the pace, taking the lead by himself, not giving the other runners any chance to slack off. It was only in the final 3000 meters that his strength gave out and he was passed by other competitors. The end result was that ­Chiang ­Chieh-wen set a meet record of 30:07.81 for the event, a time that is also his personal best to date.

Chang only finished fourth, but he was nevertheless hailed by the crowd, because he demonstrated the spirit of athletes pushing each other to give their best and set higher standards for the sport as a whole, regardless of who wins.

Born to run

Marathoners reach their peak at about 30–35 years of age. ­Chang, born in 1983, is just hitting this phase. Each and every move he makes is shaping public perceptions about marathon running.

Chang Chia-che grew up in a family of running enthusiasts. His father, ­Chang Pao-tsai, took up the sport at age 30, and later formed a long-distance running club with other amateurs to compete against one another. His mother and brother, as a matter of general health and fitness, also got into the habit of jogging. Chia-che, oddly enough, originally felt no interest.

But when ­Chang reached middle school, and entered a rebellious phase, his worried parents tried every way they could to persuade him to join the running club. “My grades in school were poor, and one day out of every weekend I spent the entire day in supplementary school classes. What a drag! But I figured that if I could get out of supplementary school by running, why not? So I did what my father asked, though I can’t say I did it willingly.”

That decision changed ­Chang’s life. He got such an adrenaline rush from competing and such a sense of achievement after each race that he just wanted to keep on running and running. With his father taking an active role in his training, as a senior in high school he won gold medals for 5000 meters and 10,000 meters at the national middle-school sports meet. Then as a sophomore in college he competed in the 10,000 meters and half-marathon at the World University Games.

In his junior year in college, ­Chang began to switch to the marathon, and put up one good result after another. In 2005, he won gold in the men’s marathon at the National Games. In 2008, he finished third in the Hofu Yo­mi­uri Marathon in Japan. And in 2012, he finished seventh in the Pyong­yang Mang­yong­dae Marathon with a time of 2:16:06, thereby qualifying under the B standard for the Olympic marathon event, which in turn launched him into the public eye.

Cool runnings

Chang’s blog has become a favorite among marathon lovers in Taiwan. Indeed, some enthusiasts have even gone so far as to collect together some of his comments into “the sayings of Chang Chia-che,” which have been widely circulated on the Internet. For example:

•“What gives the marathon meaning is to find and enjoy the pleasure that is enfolded in the process of going through so much pain.”

•“The marathon is all about searching for a more distant horizon, in patiently making progress and moving ahead.”

•“Marathon runners often have to go back to their initial inspiration and ask themselves why they began running to begin with.”

•“Running teaches us that through hard work we can become stronger, faster. It also allows us to become conscious of the fact that our bodies are not made of iron and steel. Finally, it produces self-discipline, self-control, humility, and contentment.”

Chang’s personal favorite is this thought: “First seek to run with panache, and only then seek to run with speed. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; it’s enough if you make a statement about who you are.” He explains that every athlete wants to construct their own niche, persona, and physical image. Only if you like yourself can you, working from outside in, continually take yourself to the next level, and enjoy what you are doing in a positive atmosphere. In other words, it’s not how fast you run, but how cool you feel doing it—only then will you have the motivation to keep working at it.

So, when he gets up early in the morning and sees that it’s raining outside, while other people would sigh and whine, he thinks: “Isn’t running in the rain just like a scene from a movie?” If it’s a real scorching day, while others will complain about the heat, he happily says: “Here’s my chance to wear my sunglasses and look hip!”

The power of love

Chang’s optimism and individuality owe a lot to his father ­Chang Pao-tsai. Early on, the elder ­Chang accompanied his son in training every day, though these days he limits himself to going out twice a week for “interval training.” On these days, father and son head out at dusk to the sports field at the branch campus of National Taiwan Normal University. Dividing their workout into 400-meter units, ­Chang Pao-tsai—wearing a video recorder on his head—first runs alongside his son for 100 meters, then observes his son’s speed and physical conditioning for the remaining 300 meters. They do this over and over until both are bathed in sweat, and then, after a break to stretch and relax, they go into the gym for weight training.

On the day we watch them train, ­Chang Pao-tsai stands in the cold wind with a determined look in his eye as he says: “You won’t find any coaches out there who will run with you side by side, but do you know why I insist on doing so? Because I’m also a father who loves his son!”

“Competitive athletics is a personal challenge, and also a kind of performance. Of course I aspire to win gold medals and to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio,” says ­Chang Chia-che, “But what I care about even more is to express the inner meaning of the marathon through my running, so that everyone will get even more enjoyment out of sports!” It is not short-term personal gain that matters most to Chang; he is most focused on...

The long run.

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