Joe Schubert in China

Kunming locals love to wryly say that the “mountains are high and the emperor is far away”, explaining the often devious and alternative history of their city.  Sure, some say our world is now flat, and that China is flat and better connected, meaning Kunming now submits (usually) to Beijing’s watch.  But, regardless of how flat Thomas Friedman thinks China is, the mountains and elevation have done a great job of keeping China’s pollution away from this six million person city in China’s Southwest.

Not facing the pollution that inhibits most running in Chinese cities, I spent 5 months running outside (and a mile high!) in Kunming.  The traffic, however, posed a problem that even the mountains couldn’t keep away.  I started my afternoon run how I did many in Kunming- slipping into the Moped lane.  True to congestion in China, the sidewalks are impossible to run on (and nearly so just to walk on).  Weaving around and with the slew of mopeds, I received the usual funny stares and laughs.

Then the run picked up.  A flashy black and neon green moped sped up next to me, and a young driver, cigarette dangling out of his mouth, gave me a wink.  I assumed my usual weaving.  He began weaving.  I picked up the pace, he picked it up more.  I dipped off onto a side street.  He slipped onto the side street. For twenty minutes we “raced” through Kunming’s busiest streets and quietest back alleys.  As our race ended, he asked me a few questions in Chinese/English (where are you from, etc.), gave me a cigarette, and continued on his drive.

And there I stood.  Realizing I was lost in Kunming and wearing only a pair of short shorts, and a singlet, I gazed down at my cigarette- my race medal? I stashed it behind my ear and decided to keep the run alive and slowly tried to find my way… and then I saw it.  A track.  … and a fence.  Deciding a fence shouldn’t keep me from such a unique treasure in China, I hopped onto the other side.  Ahhhh.  The relief and meditative peace of mind treasured by track runners soon took me over.  Twilight approached and I completed my first four, five, six laps.

And then, indiscernible Chinese yelling filled the air and I saw flashlights and a car on the other side of the fence.  No cherries and berries but I made out what seemed to be the figure of a Chinese police officer.  And so I ran.  Down the track.  Faster.  Over the fence.  And just kept running.  “Woah woah woah, I just ran from the police, the CHINESE police, the CHINESE AUTHORITARIAN  police, what if they catch me? I have no identification. They don’t still have re-education camps?  Right?” So I ran faster, and faster, dodging through alleys and side streets as much as possible.

Eventually my pace settled down.  I began to take note of my situation and pondered whether it was actually the police (or was it a security guard, or some old man who wanted to say hi?).  Regardless, I was really lost.  And it was dark.  And I just had short shorts, a singlet and that cigarette, somehow still tucked away behind my ear and hair.  And then it clicked.  “TAXI!!”  In nervous Chinese, I explained I had only one cigarette as fare and I was a lost foreigner and hey, my shorts don’t even reach my middle thighs.  For whatever reason, maybe out of amusement, the taxi driver agreed. Soon I was back in my old, decrepit Chinese dorm room, showering, eating fried veggie-noodles, and soaking in the best tempo workout of my life.

~ Joe~

Joe enjoys a hard earned meal after an incredible workout

SHOES WORN DURING THIS KUNMING RUN:  ASIC GEL 1160’s.    Runner\’s World on Asic Gel 1160\’s

SHOE OF CHOICE FOR WINNING CONTEST:  VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS MEN’S KSO TREK:  Think you might like to try them?  Then you need to find the perfect size…  http://www.youtube.com/user/vibramfivefingers?blend=5&ob=5#p/a/u/1/OT_UBGIhVWs

Running Story Contest 1

EntertainingYourself.com Writing Contest

April 8, 2011 – AND THE WINNER IS…Joseph Schubert for his Kunming China Running StoryJoe wins a new pair of his favorite running shoes (Vibram Fivefingers Men’s KSO Treks) – a $150 value!

The entries were amazing and the decision was very close.  We had a tie for 2nd place:  Eli Terris for his Czech Running Story  & our own Megan Ritchie for her Poland Running StoryOur 2nd place winners have received checks for $75. 

Other notable entries included:  Tammela Platt for her Ukraine Running Story, William Kennedy for his Strasbourg Running Story, & Martin Mudry for his China Running Story.    Look for  our favorite entries to be posted on this site, then DECIDE for yourself who the winner is!



EntertainingYourself.com is launching our FIRST EVER* writing contest.  It all started with a comment by Martin – an avid runner, globe trotter and EY Contributor, in response to an article written by Sam, another avid runner, globe trotter and EY Contributor (see Take the Blessing and Run).

Martin suggested a contest for Best Running Story in a Foreign Country.  We loved it and we said YES – Let’s Do It!

We’ve not only invited all of our current EntertainingYourself.com Contributors to submit, but we’ve also opened the competition to other writers/runners too.  Any takers?  If so, submit your Best Running Story in a Foreign Country (in English please) to Contactus@EntertainingYourself.com.

With your permission of course, we’ll post our favorites and select a winner.

Now – about the prize – how about a new pair of shoes? Along with your story, tell us your favorite type of running shoes** and if you are selected as the winner – you’ll be sporting them on the trail and on our Homepage!  To qualify for the shoes, submit your entry by Friday, April 1, 2011.  Assuming we receive some entries,  the winner will be announced and their article featured on our website, one week later, on Friday, April 8, 2011. Supporting pictures are welcome and may increase your chances of winning!

Any questions? Contactus@EntertainingYourself.com

Now all runners…On your marks…

*We’ll see how it goes and if it is a success, then it could be the start of a new tradition.

** 1st Prize is a pair of running shoes of your choice! Maximum prize value up to $150 retail, including taxes and the cost of shipping the shoes to you.  Include your Full Name, Address & e-mail with your entry.