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Marathon fever grows in China, as do profits

(People's Daily Online)    11:07, January 03, 2019

2018 Shaoshan Redrun International Marathon kicks off in Shaoshan City in central China's Hunan Province, on Nov. 25, 2018.

As running events continue to gain popularity around the world, China has also seen growth in its own marathon industry.

According to targets set by the Chinese Athletic Association (CAA), China is expected to host over 1,900 marathon events attracting 10 million participants in 2020, and the value of marathon-related industries is predicted to hit 120 billion yuan.

According to official CAA statistics, only 79 Chinese cities hosted marathons in 2015, but that figure quickly expanded to 133 in 2016 and then 234 in 2017. By the end of 2018, over 70 percent of China’s prefecture-level cities had hosted at least one marathon event.

The growth of China’s marathon industry started in 2011, when China’s per capita GDP exceeded $5,000.

As the sport's popularity grew, so did the performance of the runners. In 2016, only about 200 athletes in a single event were able to cover the full distance in three hours. However, over 500 completed this year’s CFLD Beijing Marathon within the same time. In the Shanghai International Marathon, held last November, 720 people also finished the competition within three hours.

The rapid development of the sport has gradually turned marathon events into a symbol of the cities they take place in, driving the formation of a whole industrial chain.

For instance, an international marathon event held in Wuxi, eastern China’s Jiangsu province, attracts around 30,000 runners each year, and as many as 200,000 visitors as well. In 2016 alone, the event created revenue of 143 million yuan for the city.

A big data report on China’s marathon development also indicated that, in addition to registration fees, advertisement, sportswear, wearable electronic devices, real estate, finance, and medical care also contributed to the industrial chain. In 2017, relevant industries were worth over 70 billion yuan.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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