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"Coach Li, there is a beautiful lady over there. She is looking at you!" Feng Wu whispered to Dai Li.
As a police officer who had been demobilized from the special forces, Wu had a much better intuition than anyone else, and thus spotted that the beautiful lady, Yunan Xiao, was looking at them from a distance.
"She may be looking at me rather than Coach Li," A police officer nearby said with a smile.
"Wu was a sniper in the special forces. His eyesight is no doubt better than yours! If he said the beautiful girl was looking at Dai Li, then it must be him," another police officer said.
Dai Li turned to face the direction Feng Wu had said and saw Yunan Xiao. Due to the distance, however, Dai Li could not see her face clearly. She was in sportswear, and was wearing a peaked cap. Her fair complexion and fine figure showed off her beauty.
The next second, he saw Baogang Liu.
Isn't that Coach Baogang Liu of the marathon team? He did join the race! I heard a few days ago that he had asked for his annual leave to prepare for this. Wait, the race uniform he is wearing looks similar to that of the team nearby. I'm sure the national team is not participating. Has he joined some amateur team?"
Thinking about this, Dai Li said to Feng Wu, "Officer Wu, could you please tell me what team that is over there?"
As a former sniper in the special forces, Feng Wu did have sharp eyes. After a glance, he said to Dai Li, "The slogan on the uniforms those people are wearing reads 'Dingtian Real Estate'. The team should be from the Dingtian Group."
The Dingtian Group... That's a giant company! How could Coach Liu have gotten involved with them? Perhaps he works for it privately to earn some extra money... Dai Li thought.
It's very likely. Baogang Liu himself is a marathon coach working all day on the training ground. There is no need for him to ask for an annual leave to do pre-race training—he could train professional athletes if he really wanted to.
Dai Li knew that Baogang Liu was a high-level coach. He had coached on the national team for several years. Although the national team didn't achieve satisfying results in the international competitions, it was undeniable that its performance was stably improving.
It's a piece of cake to coach ordinary men for him. He should have been able to form a fairly well-trained team in such a long annual leave. But no matter how skilled he is, he is no match for me. My team members are all policemen. So, my team is unparalleled compared to these common teams.
Dai Li found that he felt much more relieved than before.
"Hey, isn't that Zhao? The squad leader of the first squad? He had been working for Dingtian Group after his demobilization!" a police officer beside Dai Li said.
"Any acquaintances, Officer Wang?" Dai Li asked immediately.
"Sure. There, one of my old comrades in the army is on the Dingtian Group's team. We were levied in the same year and assigned to the same platoon. He was the head of the No. 1 squad, and I was in charge of the No. 2. Coach, may I say hi to him?" His request for a temporary leave was approved, and he walked over to the Dingtian Group's team.
Officer Wang returned to the team after a moment.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting so long. I met a few old comrades there," Wang explained. "At first, I thought only Zhao was there. But I never expected another two comrades in my military unit to also be on that team..."
"Are there a lot of demobilized army men in the that team?" Dai Li vigilantly asked.
A police officer named Sui next to him looked over the team of the Dingtian Group and answered, "Quite a few. People who served in the army, especially those who just get demobilized, would reveal their identity of being a soldier easily. I think they are all demobilized army men."
Officer Sui was a criminal police officer. He knew a lot and had excellent observation and good analytic skills.
All demobilized army men! Dai Li gasped nervously. Now, the situation turned hot.
I used to believe my team was strong enough physically. But it never occured to me that the Dingtian Group's team is almost as strong as mine, in that they even employed Baogang Liu as their coach! They will be my archrival in this race, and I have to take as much care as I can. I'll detect their ability later.
Before long, all the contestants stood on the starting line. Dai Li seized this opportunity to detect the abilities of the members of the Dingtian Group's team.
They are strong, as expected. If I just compare the ability points, the points of that team are almost equally matched with mine. Thanks to the buff from my Endurance Aura, they should be no match for my team if the race really comes down to the end. Dai Li was reassured.
Does Dai Li really know marathon training?
Baogang Liu was still uncertain. He would be much more confident if his opponent were one of his fellow coaches he had worked with on the national team for years. As a senior coach on the national team, he knew them well.
But he couldn't figure out Dai Li at all. On the eve of the Asian Games, Dai Li had volunteered to coach the relay race team and made them champions. Baogang Liu had witnessed that race. The coordination among the four team members couldn't have been achieved in a day's training. That made him believe that there was something mysterious about Dai Li.
This guy Dai Li is by no means ordinary if he was chosen by Li Xue. However, he is too young; mastering sprint training is challenging enough for him. He should not be skilled at long-distance race training! Baogang Liu tried to boost his morale.
At that moment, the starting gun fired. Runners began to move like the tide of the sea. The scene of several thousands of people running on the track was rather spectacular.
There is an old saying that goes, "Never fall behind at the starting line." But the half marathon was not a 100-meter sprint. These runners had to run over 20 kilometers in total; whether they were slightly ahead in the beginning would have little influence on their rankings in the race.
But many people who took part in the race for the first time didn't understand that, and eagerly ran as quickly as they could to gain some advantage once the race began.
Some amateur participants sped up to follow those fast runners out of fear of falling behind. What they didn't know was that a marathon at the amateur level aimed for running as much as one could. Finishing the race was most important.
Seeing this, Baogang Liu shook his head silently.
The present front-runners may quit the race halfway. Although there seems to be a lot of people running during the race, those who can finish the race are probably less than ⅕ of the people running right now, if I had to guess. Absorbed in thoughts, Baogang Liu picked up a pack of drinks, and rode on his bicycle.
At the same time, Dai Li also carried a pack of supplies and rode on a shared bicycle.
The road that had been selected as the race track had been closed for this marathon, so no automobiles were allowed to pass through. As a result, supplies such as drinks and energy bars had to be transported by bicycles.
There were too many teams in the race, including dozens of teams composed of undergraduates. If every team had a car with them, the race would certainly be hindered by those vehicles.
Of course, special vehicles like police cars and ambulances were permitted to enter the track. To avoid arousing suspicion of providing privilege to the police team, the police station hadn't assigned any cars for its team. Dai Li, as the team coach, had to bring the supplies to the next supply point by himself.
In a marathon, the organizer would set up supply zones. Sometimes participating teams might set up some additional supply zones to supply their players as well.
The first supply point in this half marathon was five kilometers away from the starting line. It was a good distance for those who dared to take part in the race. For those who had difficulty running five kilometers, they really needed more exercise.
Dai Li wrote down some notes at the supply zone and stuck them to the bottles with double-sided tape. It was a method to deliver messages during the marathon. Depending on the conditions of the runners, the coach would write down their tactical arrangements on the paper to inform his athletes. In similar races like road cycling, participants used the same method to deliver messages.
Racers reaching the supply zone first were all athletes of good skill. Those who were first i nthe beginning of the race might have dropped out already.
"Dai Li! You are here!" Baogang Liu's voice arose.
Before the race, there had been too many people, and both of them were busy setting up their strategies. The two of them had no chance to greet each other. Now that they were at the supply point where there weren't many people, they had no excuse to not see each other.
"Coach Liu!" Dai Li smiled immediately. "I saw you earlier. Please pardon me for not greeting you. I had a lot to deal with."
"Same here," Baogang Liu replied. He then asked, "Dai Li, are all your team members policemen?"
"Yes, they are. Days ago the police station wanted to hire a coach among us. Everyone was busy except for me, so I went," Dai Li answered. "Coach Liu, is your team from the Dingtian Group?"
"Hehe..." Baogang Liu readily acknowledged it without being awkward about doing a private job.
They spoke vaguely and tried to get a sense of each other's strength as runners gradually appeared from the horizon.
"Here they come!" Dai Li found a group of runners in blue sportswear—they were from the police team. Simultaneously, the Dingtian Group's team appeared in his sight.
Dai Li and Baogang Liu both picked up their bags and walked to the side of the road, ready to pass drinks out to their team members.
The second supply zone was 7.5 kilometers away. After that, a supply zone would be set up every 2.5 kilometers.
It was reasonable to set up more supply points in an amateur marathon race. When ordinary men had to run ten kilometers, every 2.5 kilometers in the race would drain them, and even cause some of them to suffer. At every supply point, there were always a number of runners that could no longer continue running anymore and had to quit the race.
The number of runners on the track started to decrease at the 10-kilometer supply zone, and began dropping more quickly when it got to the 17.5-kilometer mark. For those who had run that far, they were all able to finish the race. The supply zone for 20 kilometers was a little over one kilometer away from the finish line. Runners who had run that far would not give up easily.
At the supply zone for the 7.5-kilometer mark there were still many runners, but some obvious gaps had emerged among them. Neither the police team nor the Dingtian Group team were in first place, but they were still ahead of the majority of the racers.
The real race would really begin at the 10-kilometer supply zone Many people would quit at the next two supply zones.
"Dai Li, I have to go." Baogang Liu waved goodbye to Dai Li, then rode to the next supply point.
Dai Li smiled helplessly. The bicycle Liu was riding on was a high-end urban bicycle with derailleur, and could even be used as a racing bike. The Dingtian Group was rich enough to offer several bicycles to its team staff.
Dai Li's bicycle was a shared bicycle that had to scan a QR code before it could be used. Such a bicycle was no match for Baogang Liu's city bicycle in terms of speed and riding experience.
Forget it; I only need to be a bit faster than my team to reach the zone in advance. It will be fine. He rode on his bicycle and headed for the next supply zone.
Dai Li had seen many runners falling behind on the track.
Although most participants were merely having fun, there were still a bunch of marathon fans in them. Some of these fans were outstanding runners at the amateur level, even though they couldn't rival professionals. They were no slower than the advantageous teams and thus appeared in the front. Some really tough athletes among them could even win the individual championship.
The half marathon is no doubt the fastest growing sport in the last two years. So many people take part in the race, and there are a few masters at the amateur level. It has been almost twelve kilometers now. Racers running this far are obviously skilled. It's particularly difficult for solo runners to stay towards the front of the pack because they lack team coordination and have spent too much of their stamina. What a challenge!"
Dai Li marveled at them as he continued riding forward. All of a sudden, a man in white sportswear stumbled and fell to the ground. Dai Li took a careful look at him and found that it was a skinny man in his sixties who had grizzled hair.
"Director Xiao, you don't need to ride to the end. Our company has arranged a car for you. Isn't it better to go the other way and take a little detour to get you to the finish line?" A man beside Yunan Xiao was speaking to her attentively.
"It doesn't matter. I just want to get some exercise. It's only twenty kilometers; not that much." She actually despised this form of flattery, if it could be called that, but showed no discomfort in her expression.
It was natural for the employees of the Dingtian Group to come and try to pamper Yunan Xiao due to her position. For example, when she had decided to ride to the finish line in today's race, seven or eight people immediately rode on bicycles to accompany her. One of them even carried an ice box containing cold drinks for her.
Alas, I have no freedom at all! Yunan Xiao sighed helplessly.
At that moment, she saw someone fall to the ground.
Somebody fell down! It looks like an old man! She made up her mind and rode over there to help him as soon as possible.
"Director Xiao, please wait!" the man beside her said, following her. "Check it out first, don't touch him!"
"Why?" Yunan Xiao asked as she turned around to look at him.
"You have been in the U.S. too long and don't know the situation here. When faced with this type of thing, you should call the police or the hospital. If you insist on helping him, please do so after I have taken the video as proof to illustrate that the man was not hit by you," the man answered.
Yunan Xiao opened her mouth, but said nothing. She had thought of cases of "pengci" fraud, and the story of someone helping an old woman out of kindness at first, but selling a car to pay reparations to her in the end.
"It can't be..." Xiao seemed to say to herself.
"Director Xiao, people are very different these days. You have your special status. Being blackmailed will harm your reputation." Then, the man said to the men behind him, "Zhang and Li, you two go and help that old man; Zhao and Yu, take the video with your mobile phone. Although we are helping others, we don't want to be fooled!"
While they were talking, Dai Li arrived from behind. He stopped his bicycle in front of the old man.
"Are you okay, sir? Let me help you up!" he said without hesitation.
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