As the day breaks on Sunday, 22 November 2015, some 4,000 runners will be up and raring to run one of Taiwan’s most scenic sightseeing lake trails. It is also the scene of an incredibly rich and diverse history.
The largest lake in Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake has been known by many names. Called “zintun” by the Thao tribe, it was renamed as Bamboo Lake amongst many other names when the Hans reclaimed the Shueishalian land. In the late Cing Dynasty, western missionaries, who came to share their faith with the Thao people, named it Lake Candidus, Dragon Lake and so on.
The island on Sun Moon Lake has it fair share of name transformations too. An ancient settlement of the Thao people, the islet was called “Lalu Island”. Cing Dynasty folklore has it that, like two dragons playing with a pearl, the Cinglong (Green Dragon) Mountain and Lunlong (Mountain Dragon) Mountain are facing each other with “Pearl Island” cradled in between.
Later, it would be named Jade Island during the Japanese Occupation, then Guanghua Island, meaning “The Light of China”. The original name, Lalu Island, was restored out of respect for the Thao tribe after the 921 Earthquake of 1999.
Perhaps Sun Moon Lake is so aptly named become it comprises of the diamond-shaped Sun Lake and curved Moon Lake. Or perhaps it is so named because of the transcendental natural beauty, which has so captured the hearts of many for centuries and even now. You’ll have to see it for yourself and the annual Sun Moon Lake Marathon is the perfect reason to go.
Gathering at Xingshan Visitor Centre, 1,500 full marathoners will flag off from 6:30 a.m. while another 2,500 runners will set off on a 29 km route at 6:35 a.m.
They will make their way towards the large and imposing Wenwu Temple, which has the palace style of northern China. The next checkpoint is Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which runners and visitors should go back for pre or post-race for the 7-minute cable car ride offering a bird’s eye view of the beautiful scenery.
Xuanzang Temple and Syuanguang Temple are the next iconic landmarks they’ll meet before they head to Tosha. 29 km runners will finish their race back at the starting area. Meanwhile, the full marathoners will divert from the crowd, passing through Wudeng Village before U-turning back to the finish line.
Crystalline glass trophies will be awarded to the top overall 10 male and 10 female finishers, as well as the top finishers in each age category.
For more information, visit the Sun Moon Lake Marathon website.