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Beijing Marathon goes the full distance, boosting performances

(China Daily)    07:40, September 21, 2015
Beijing Marathon goes the full distance, boosting performances
A runner delights in crossing the Beijing Marathon finish line at Olympic Park on Sunday. [KUANG LINHUA/CHINA DAILY]

The Beijing Marathon saw improved performances on Sunday triggered by the increased enthusiasm for distance running in China, participants and officials said.

This year's event, which started in Tian'anmen Square, was the first time in its 35-year history that all entrants had to cover the full distance of 42.19 kilometers. The half-marathon, included for the first time in 1998, was not held.

As long-distance running continues to rise in popularity in China, it was necessary to upgrade the Beijing event from a mass-sport gala to a professional showcase targeting elite-level runners, organizing officials said.

"We thought it was the right time to cut out the half marathon and admit only runners for the full marathon," said Sun Xuecai, director of the organizing committee and head of the Beijing Sports Bureau. Sun was speaking at the finish line at Olympic Park.

"The increased public participation as well as performances in long-distance running in China suggest that we have enough runners capable of finishing the full race consistently. This is a sign of the overall improvement in public fitness," Sun said.

Kenyan veteran Mariko Kipchumba finished in 2 hours 11 minutes to claim the men's title, while Betelhem Cherenet of Ethiopia took the women's crown in 2:27:31.

About 30,000 runners from 45 countries and regions took part.

Even though there was no half marathon, more than 65,000 runners applied for the 30,000 places available through online registration. The Chinese Athletics Association said more than 52,000 runners completed full marathons in China last year.

Wang Dawei, vice-chairman of the association and secretary-general of the organizing committee, said the growing public awareness of fitness, especially among the middle and upper classes, had helped to popularize running as a hobby.

To avoid a repeat of embarrassing scenes in 2013 when runners urinated on walls of the Palace Museum due to insufficient sanitary facilities, organizers added 160 extra mobile toilets at the starting area and set up 18 toilet stops along the route.

Guo Qiyun, a physical education teacher from Qinghai province, who finished his 11th Beijing Marathon in 3:08:10 on Sunday, said: "It was much better than before. The signs for the toilets were clear and there were no long lines at each point. There also seemed to be more drink stations than before."

However, the concentration of PM2.5-particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less-reached a medium-pollution-level of 160 on Sunday morning.

Frank Herr, an Austrian runner who completed his third consecutive Beijing Marathon, said, "It was still doable, but I wouldn't attempt a marathon in these conditions every day." 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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