CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (2/1/2019 Fri.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (2/1/2019 Fri.)

People's Daily app

02:03, February 01, 2019

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From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story. 

The sport of marathon racing is emerging as a new craze across China and with any new fad there are bound to be bumps in the road (pun intended). 

However, in the case of Chinese marathons, there have been several incidents recently that have drawn the attention of both national and international media for all the wrong reasons. 

Runners were caught cheating en masse - literally and figuratively cutting corners at the Shenzhen half-marathon. 

In Suzhou, local runner He Yinli was handed the Chinese flag near the finish line and was forced to make an impossible decision - either drop it and thereby disrespect the country's standard or run with it and thereby slow herself down at a crucial juncture in the race. 

She ended up finishing second behind an Ethiopian runner after tossing the flag on the ground. 

And, tragically, a runner at the Xiamen International half-marathon died after completing a race that he was not registered for. 

Today's Story in the Story looks at marathon running in China and why, even though it is still in its formative stages, it is important to keep races clean.

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(File Photo: CGTN) 

China will put in more efforts to keep running races clean after a flurry of scandals clouded marathons in the country, said a top official of the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA). 

China has seen a boom of marathon races in recent years. In 2011, China only hosted 22 running events nationwide, but the number soared to 1,102 in 2017, according to the association. 

"Despite widespread debate on recent controversies, most people focus on how rules and regulations need to be observed rather than simply rant and rave at delinquent runners or organizers," said CAA vice president Wang Nan. 

"Last year saw the tipping point of China's marathon development, which is switching from high-speed boom towards a trajectory of viable and quality development," Wang added. 

The marathon explosion in China has stunned both domestic and international observers alike. It is important to keep in mind, however, that China has lacked a robust recreational running culture for most of its modern history. 

As with any sport, there are rules and regulations to observe, but these take time to become engrained in the social consciousness of a country. 

Marathon routes should always be clearly demarcated and secure. 

In addition to allowing cheats to cut corners, a poorly delineated route also raises a number of security issues. 

A well-organized marathon must mobilize resources along the entire route in order to make sure that those who cross the tape have actually completed the course and done so safely. 

As more and more everyday Chinese embrace marathon running as part of a healthy lifestyle, it will become even more imperative to ensure that runners, organizers and the general public are educated about the standards that have to be maintained.


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Winners of best 10 running mass groups. (Photo: China Daily)

Rather than apportioning blame, the real question that media outlets need to be asking is: How can China learn from these teething problems as it seeks to construct a sustainable, viable and long-term marathon running infrastructure? 

Marathon running has become so popular that the sport has its own annual expo. The 3rd China Marathon Expo was held in the coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province in January. 

The event, first held in Xiamen in 2016, aims to promote the healthy development of China's marathon industry as the number of running events being organized across the country continues to skyrocket. 

The 2019 edition, occupying 26,000 square meters, was composed of pavilions with themes ranging from running equipment, sports health, intelligent sports to sports tourism. 

Xiamen, the host city of the expo and the Xiamen International Marathon, one of China's premier running events, was given the honorary title of "Marathon City" by the China Athletic Association, the first such designation in the country. 

Meantime, a forum gathering running mass groups, brands, sponsors and event organizers called for standardized and professional training and competition amid the national campaign of mass fitness and marathon running. 

The Sina 2017 running award, Sina Sports' annual event to award the nation’s best running groups and brands promoting running as a lifestyle, gave awards to 10 running mass groups from across the nation, and named the Beijing Marathon and Shanghai Half-Marathon the nation's most popular marathon and half marathon. 

Shui Tao, vice secretary of the China Athletics Association, said the country's administrative organs are working on regulations to standardize marathon competition and industry development. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe, and Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily and Global Times.)


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