Temperatures plummeted and freezing sleet and hail began to pound the terrain, so Zhu took shelter in a small cave he had been using for years to store emergency supplies. It was from there Zhu noticed one of the runners. The man appeared immobilized, disoriented, and in pain.
Zhu brought the man back to the cave to warm him up. After lighting a fire, Zhu returned to the mountainside, helping five additional runners to the cave.
Unprepared for the abrupt shift in the weather, most racers were outfitted in lightweight clothing so there was a big threat of hypothermia. Unfortunately, 21 of the 172 athletes in the race died to the storm.
“I want to say how grateful I am to the man who saved me,” runner Zhang Xiaotao posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo. “Without him, I would have been left out there.”
While Zhu is being lauded as a hero in his homeland, the humble shepherd doesn’t see the reason for all the fuss. He says he’s “just an ordinary person who did a very ordinary thing.”