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December 2, 2013

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Thousands brave cold weather as marathon draws record entries

THOUSANDS of Chinese and foreigners defied the cold chill and poor air quality yesterday to show their support for 18th Shanghai International Marathon, which attracted a record number of competitors.

South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka won the men’s marathon, coming in just short of the local record.

Mokoka clocked a time of two hours, nine minutes and 30 seconds — just 29 seconds slower than the Shanghai marathon record. The world record for full marathon is two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds set by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang in Berlin last September.

Mokoka collected the winner’s check of US$45,000.

He was joined on the winner’s dais by Ethiopia’s Shewaye Aberu Kebede who took the women’s honors.

The race started from Chen Yi Square on the Bund at 7am and finished at the Shanghai Stadium. It attracted around 35,000 participants, including 5,558 foreigners — a record for Shanghai marathon.

The full marathon covered 42 kilometers while the half marathon was 21 kilometers. There were also other events like the 5-kilometer mini-marathon and the 10-kilometer race. The completion rate of the full and half marathon was 97.7 percent and 94.1 percent respectively, down 0.2 percent from last year, according to the organizers.

Poor air quality

Geoffrey Schneider, a French IT engineer who works in Suzhou, finished the half marathon at about 8:47am. It was his fifth marathon in Shanghai. “The weather was nice but the air pollution was a problem,” Schneider told Shanghai Daily. “If it were not for the event, people should not be doing sports under such air conditions.”

Schneider said he was checking the AQI (Air Quality Index) while competing in the race and found the air was seriously polluted.

Official figures from Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center show the AQI rose from 160 at 7am to 202 at 1pm, meaning the air was moderately polluted during the race.

Fairley Nickerson from the United States wore a mask during the race.

A physical education teacher at a local international high school, she had been training for the race for three months. She finished her first full marathon in four hours and 45 minutes.

“My students thought I was crazy, but the experience was great,” Nickerson said.

Nickerson said she joined the event this year because she gave up smoking last year.

In the one that stole hearts, Liao Zhi, a Chinese dance teacher who lost both her legs in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, competed with prosthetic legs.



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