Marathons drive integrated sports, tourism development

(People's Daily Online) 13:42, April 07, 2024

The 2024 Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon, held on March 31 in Tongren, a city famed for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mount Fanjing in southwest China's Guizhou Province, attracted nearly 10,000 runners from over 10 countries and regions.

The marathon included three categories: a full marathon, a half marathon, and a fun run.

A Singaporean citizen, who is also a travel enthusiast, participated in the Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon. He has made multiple trips to China, blending sightseeing with running.

"I really wanted to visit Mount Fanjing, so I took the opportunity of the marathon to travel and run here," he said.

Fan Lili, a young participant who began running marathons eight years ago, has run in more than 40 marathons across several cities. For her, each marathon is akin to a journey.

Many runners of the Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon expressed their plans to stay after the event to enjoy the stunning spring scenery of Mount Fanjing.

Runners compete during the 2024 Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon in Tongren city, southwest China's Guizhou Province, March 31. (Photo courtesy of the media convergence center of Tongren city)

In addition to the Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon, other marathons took place across China on the same day, including in Zhengzhou and Kaifeng in central China's Henan Province, Shijiazhuang in north China's Hebei Province, and Jingzhou in central China's Hubei Province.

China's thriving marathon industry has spurred the growth of the sports economy. On the evening before the Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon, the local government hosted a carnival at the Zhongnanmen ancient town of Tongren city. The festivities included a long-table banquet, a dragon dance, a parade showcasing ethnic costumes, and a campfire party. These activities allowed runners to immerse themselves in the excitement of athletic competition while learning about local customs and culture.

Data shows that the number of marathons and road running events across China rose from 51 in 2014 to 1,828 in 2019. The country held a total of 580 road running races in 2023, with the total number of participants reaching 5.5 million.

Photo shows the stunning scenery of Mount Fanjing in Tongren city, southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Photo/Li He)

Marathons and the tourism industry are inseparable, according to Deng Xiaohai, deputy director of the Guizhou Tourism Development Research Center at the Guizhou Academy of Social Sciences.

Deng suggested that cities hosting marathons should introduce favorable policies related to scenic spots and organize various related activities. This approach would enable marathons to rapidly drive the integrated development of the sports industry and tourism.

Photo shows a carnival for the 2024 Mount Fanjing Spring Marathon at the Zhongnanmen ancient town of Tongren city, southwest China's Guizhou Province, March 30. (Photo courtesy of the publicity department of the CPC Tongren municipal committee)

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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