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Wind clears air for Beijing Marathon

(Global Times)

09:50, November 26, 2012

Participants set off as the clock starts to tick at the start of the Beijing Marathon on Sunday morning. Photo: Shi Haohong/GT

The Beijing Marathon, with around 30,000 participants, was run Sunday morning with no reports of serious injury or deaths after some participants considered dumping the race over health concerns associated with running through the city's heavily polluted air.

The organizing committee had set up medical care stations every 2.5 kilometers and placed medical volunteers every 100 meters throughout the course, which started at Tiananmen Square and ended at Olympic Forest Park. Two runners were hospitalized for running-related injuries. The medical stations treated 1,037 runners for a variety of minor injuries.

At 6 am Sunday the air quality index, as measured by monitoring equipment at the US Embassy, stood at 390 and was considered "hazardous," the highest level warning. By noon, however, after a brisk wind swept across the city the index had dropped to just 45 and the air quality was listed as good.

The Beijing Marathon Organizing Committee also provided ginger soup at the finish line, and distributed "Guidelines for Long-distance Running in Winter" that provided detailed training instructions. They also closely monitored the weather and air quality in cooperation with the weather bureau.

Severe air pollution in Beijing over the last few weeks caused some participants to consider abandoning the race. Popular Sina Weibo users, including Xue Yong, assistant professor at Suffolk University in Boston, and Xue Manzi, an investor, suggested the organizing committee should consider cancelling the race if the air was heavily polluted on race day. They received hundreds of supportive comments.

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