Story of the 9th Asia-Pacific business schools' desert adventure: a battle in Tengger

Photo from the Committee of Asia-Pacific Business Schools Desert Adventure

ZJU set a new record by ranking fifth in the team competition, and won the highest honor of the event – the Sandpiper Award. FANG Jie from GMSCM2017 won the championship in men’s group A, and five other players, with their excellent performance, ranked top ten in competition in group A, B and C.

From August 22nd to 24th, 2020, the 9th Asia-Pacific Business School Desert Adventure (hereinafter referred to as “Asia-Pacific Desert Adventure”) was held in Tengger Desert. The Asia-Pacific Desert Adventure, with a duration of three days and a whole course of 70km, is a desert cross race for MBA students in Asia Pacific region. The purpose of the competition is to temper the will in the arduous environment, and to train for stamina and indomitable spirit.

ZJU MBA Deagle (Shaying) Outdoor was led by YUAN Yang and XIA Wenling. 31 players competed with over 1,500 others from more than 70 colleges and universities around the world in Alxa, and finally made historic achievements in Tengger. How did this magical team achieve this record result, and what happened in these three days? Let’s dive in.

Run: Win the First Battle under the Scorching Sun

August 22nd, the Limit of Heat, Sunny

At 5:00 a.m., the streets of Alxa were still shrouded in moonlight, but inside the hotel it is hustle-and-bustle. After one-hour drive, the team arrived at the starting point. The team assembled immediately, busy sorting out their bags, queuing up and warming up. As the sun rising, the air became very dry, and the atmosphere of the venue gradually became tense and restless. Time seems to be enough but was indeed quite limited. Immediately after the appointing ceremony, they began to wait for the starting pistol. The team members acted quickly and orderly, completed all the preparatory work in a short time. The sun seemed to hear the whistle of departure. Soon after the departure, it rose high to the sky and poured its blazing light on the whole desert. As the ground temperature rose rapidly, the sweat evaporated as soon as it came out. The sand was blown to face by strong dry wind, crushing everyones energy cruelly, and it was just in the morning. Every step on the soft sand is harder than usual. The predetermined route with a full length of 25km is a great test of physical strength. On the endless towering sand dunes, the players sometimes climb the sand ridges and sometimes go around the sand waist. After Climbing up a sand dune and rushing down, you’ll see a similar sand dune ahead, which is a kind of suffering for both the body and the mind.

Team C has been waiting at the finish line, the team to provide logistics in a careful and thoughtful manner. After several hours of exposure to high temperature, the players experienced physical exhaustion, heatstroke, cramps, and injuries. They helped each other to cool down, stretch and replenish. Finally, everyone finished the match safely, and FANG Jie won the first place on the first day. Besides the championship of mens group on the first day, Zhejiang University also ranked fifth in the team competition on the first day! Thanks to the unremitting efforts of all the team members, Zhejiang University made a good start. When the sun goes down, all team members come out from tents and gather together to summarize and share the experience of the competition on the first day. It was obvious that everyone has a deeper understanding and experience of the desert. Meanwhile, the team leader Tang also explained the game tactics, general principles and anti-cramp skills of the second day.

Though the team was fully prepared, the unexpected situation on the second day caught everyone off guard.

Emergency: Persistent and Dauntless in Gusting Sand and Heavy Rain

August 23rd, 2020, Heavy Rain

After 0:00, the desert began to cool down; at 2:00 am, a strong wind suddenly blew, and one of the tents of was blown away. It began to rain outside at 3:00 am. The rain hit the tents and made pattering sound. At 4:00 am, the team members got up as planned, making the camp noisy again. The cold rain and the strong wind outside the tent made everyone shiver.

After a while, the team received a notice from the Organizing Committee: the original departure time would be adjusted to 7:30 a.m., postponed by 1 hour. At the same time, notice on route change by the Organizing Committee was also announced: the CP13, as the most difficult stage of the route, was moved to the south by a large part, and CP8 and CP9 were even cancelled directly, which greatly reduced the difficulty and length of the route on the second day, thus prevent competitors from losing heat during the race due to sudden change in weather and sudden drop in temperature. Although the departure time was postponed, the morning time was still valuable. The team members were busy having breakfast, packing, assembling and warming up. After the warm-up, TANG changed the strategy urgently. Taking into consideration the hardening of sand roads due to rain and low temperatures, the team would abandon the conservative tactics agreed yesterday, and would take a more aggressive tactics that competitors will surely adopt. At 7:00 a.m., the team waited for departure. However, the heavy rain showed no sign of stopping at all, on the contrary, it was raining harder and harder.

The whistle sounded at 7:30 a.m., and everyone rushed out and headed for the desert in the rain! Just as expected, as soon as the spearhead set out, the rhythm and pace were much faster than that of yesterday. Although the hard sand road is suitable for running, there are still many sand dunes along the route. Moreover, CP10 and CP11 belong to the cross-cutting sand dune route without any flat road. The team was repeating uphill and downhill climbing all day. With the wet sand sticking to the shoe cover and heavy rain pouring down to the body, all equipment was drenched. The players felt cold and wet, breathing fast and tramping difficultly; With a little pause, the cold air may reduce the surface temperature. Therefore, the team members had to march forward against the strong wind. The sand and rain were blown to their face, making them rather painful.

ZJU Team was fearless of wind, sand and rain. In front of them, there were well-trained team-mates; and behind them, they have the support of predecessors and coaches thousands of miles away. Considering safety as the biggest concern, the team kept fifth place.

The Decisive Battle: Man Proposes, God Disposes.

August 24th, 2020 Sunny

After two days of fierce competition, the team finally ushered in the decisive day. Early in the morning, the camp was filled with tension and anxiety. Getting up at 4:30 a.m., all team members began to pack equipment, dismantle their tents, and load their luggage. It seemed that they were busier than ever. In order to adapt to the large slopes, team A and B began to warm up hastily. Facing the rising sun, the team set out. Steep slopes came after long gentle slopes. However, everyone just rushed forward and no one wanted to control speed. The speed was accelerated and the heart rate soared. No one would be humble at the beginning of this battle, and everyone would hold on straight to the end!

List of Awards:

Team Award

Fifth place in Overall Team Result

Sandpiper Award

Individual Awards

FANG Jie, GMSCM 2017, championship of men’s group A

ZHANG Yanwei, MBA 2019, 9thin the women’s group A

LIU Yan, MBA 2107, 8thin the women’s group B

CHEN Xiaoqin, MBA 2019, 10thin the women’s group B

LI Zhijin, MBA 2019, 7thin the men’s group C

JIN Shuai, MBA 2019, 6thin the women’s group C

The Asia-Pacific Business Schools Desert Adventure is held annually in Tengger Desert of Inner Mongolia on May Day holiday. The event was originated in 2012 and has been successfully held for eight times. At present, more than 100 top business schools from mainland China, Taiwan (China), Hongkong (China), Macao (China), Singapore, Australia, Britain and the United States have participated in the competition. The Asia-Pacific Desert Adventure has become the most extensive business school event in the region, officially certified by the WRCA as the "largest desert hiking challenge" in the world. It provides a cross- university and cross-regional exchange platform for the MBA elites.

Affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the event this year was postponed from May 1 to August. From August 21 to August 24, the "SLEEMON Cup 9thAsia-Pacific Business Schools Desert Adventure" was held as scheduled in Tengger Desert, Left Banner of Alxa League, Inner Mongolia. Over 70 teams from more than 70 colleges and universities, with a total number of more than 1,000 players, participated in the competition for the Sandpiper Award.