Chinese Shepherd Saved Six Ultra-marathoners

He sheltered the hypothermic competitors in a cave and gave them food and clothing.

As the events of the ultra-marathon tragedy of May 23 continue to unravel, a humble hero has emerged from the chaos. Zhu Keming, a shepherd, braved the freezing winds and rains to save the lives of several competitors. 

Zhu Keming was having a pleasant Saturday morning tending his sheep when suddenly high winds and hail forced him into a nearby cave that he used in emergencies.

He kept food and dry clothes in there, but he didn’t think he’d need them that day. Not long after, his eyes spotted a distant competitor struggling with a cramp in his leg. He ran through the rain and helped the man to safety. Soon, more runners found refuge in the cave.

But the most remarkable rescue was that of competitor Zhangye Xiaotao. He had fallen unconscious after sending an SOS via his GPS tracker. Xiaotao was reportedly on the mountain for two-and-a-half hours before Zhu found him. The shepherd had ventured out to help other runners and came upon Xiaotao. He quickly brought him to the cave to warm him up. Zhu lit a fire and gave the three men and three women he saved whatever warm clothes, food, and blankets he had. 

The survivors. Photo: South China Morning Post


Public rage about the loss of life continues in China. The event organizers in nearby Baiyin city had ignored the adverse weather warnings for the 100km cross-country race. Some believe that this was due to their desire to improve tourism in the depressed mining towns by turning them into prime spots for extreme sports.

The race stopped at two pm after competitors sent out pleas for help via social media. However, many competitors did not receive the notice. Had Zhu not been there, there would have been more than 21 casualties. 

As a result of the tragedy, five other races have been canceled.