How a balloon saved this runner’s life during a marathon

runner struck by lightning

Runner Cheng Kean Wee was pacing 4 hour 30 at the Penang Bridge International Marathon at the weekend when he was struck by lightning, 3km from the finish line. During the race, Cheng, along with hundreds of other runners were running through a heavy thunderstorm. When the lightning struck, luckily, his pacing balloon took the brunt, immediately melting it but saving his life.

Cheng told local news publications: “We started the full marathon at about 1.30am. It started raining heavily at about [31KM], and we could hear thunder and see lightning around the race course.

“As the runners and I were heading towards the finishing line, we saw bright lights and heard a very loud bang. I felt my back was a little lighter. One of the runners pointed out that the pacer balloon which I was carrying had burst.”

Not only did Cheng escape being struck by lightning, he crossed the line in four hours, 29 minutes - sticking to his perfect pace throughout. He has since said he is a little shaken by the incident, but relieved that he is still alive.

Penang Bridge International Marathon organisers cancelled the 10K run due to the heavy thunderstorm.

Runners took to social media to share their achievements, despite the heavy rain:

Huge kudos to Cheng Kean Wee.

Related: Chinese runner misses out on 1st place at marathon because of her national flag