|▲ Contributed by Yoo Dong-hyeon
On December 2018, Yoo Donghyeon, a Freshman in the Division of Electrical and Bioengineering at Hanyang University (HYU), achieved the ‘Youngest Grand Slammer’ award at the ‘Four Deserts Grand Slam 2018’. The marathon, also known as the Sahara Race, adds up records from each place: the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert, the Atacama Desert, and the Last Desert at Antarctica, and awards people with the fastest total records.
Q. What was your motivation behind challenging yourself to compete at the ‘Four Deserts Grand Slam 2018’?
A. I decided to participate in the marathon when I was 22 years old. I read about the marathon in a magazine which then became a turning point that motivated me to enter my first marathon ever. My curiosity for the marathon was what ultimately triggered me to meet this challenge.
Q. What was the toughest point in the process of preparing for the marathon?
A. First of all, the financial burden was the biggest obstacle I faced when entering the marathon. The entry fee was about 30 million won, excluding the 50 kinds of essential preparations I had to do to prepare for it. Also, I was worried about my physical strength to finish the marathon. Thus, I had three months of short but hard-core training before the marathon.
Q. Which experience do you value the most during this challenging marathon?
A. I was able to develop my communication skills as I was surrounded by foreigners. I had a chance to be abroad before, but it was difficult at first to talk to the foreigners. During the marathon, when each course ended, people from all over the world sat around and shared their perspectives about the modern society’s problems: smartphone addiction, obesity, and pollution. It was a valuable opportunity to enlarge my perspective in diverse areas.
Q. How has your mindset changed after participating in the marathon?
A. I began to feel more grateful for even the smallest things in my life. Washingor eating was a privilege in the desert and I always had to save enough water just in case it ran out. Since everything was very scarce in the desert, I could realize the importance of things that I had previously taken for granted.
Q. Are there any more marathons that you have in mind to participate in the future? Can you explain why you are preparing for more?
A. Now, I am planning to participate in a triathlon and a bike crossing over the United States. Because there are many energetic people in these kinds of tournaments, I wish to be motivated by this and test my limits. I believe that opportunities like this will be a great opportunity to understand and develop myself.
Q. Any last words for HYU students who are having difficulty in breaking their limits and challenging themselves?
A. University students tend to underestimate themselves and their abilities, therefore hesitating to go for their dreams. This is not just for competitions like the one I was in but for any other task that directly challenges them. It is sad that many students give up before they even try. I would like to say that you are a great person and have more potential than you think. Just trust yourself and do it.