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November 30, 2020

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9,000 athletes compete in city’s marathon for a rare mass event

AROUND 9,000 runners took part in the Shanghai International Marathon yesterday, a rare mass event in a year when coronavirus laid waste to most such sport.

Bucking that trend, the Shanghai marathon went ahead under sunny skies following several days of rain, and with virus prevention measures in place to thwart infections.

Runners had to pass a coronavirus test to take part and were ordered to wear a mask immediately before and after the race. Some kept them on the whole time.

The number of competitors was down from 38,000 from previous editions. Only the full 42-kilometer distance race was run, with 10km and 5.5km races canceled.

The race was flagged off at 7am at the Bund and finished at the riverside West Bund Art Center in Xuhui District. It usually ends at the Shanghai Stadium, but the more spacious art center area helped avoid overcrowding.

The route covered famous scenic spots in the city including People’s Square, Nanjing Road and Jing’an Temple.

No overseas athletes were invited this year, leaving the event open to domestic runners. Jia Erenjia, from the northwest Qinghai Province, became the first male runner to cross the finish line, clocking 2:12:44. It was Jia’s personal best, and also the Shanghai International Marathon’s new record for a Chinese male runner. The best timing for Shanghai marathon is 2:08:10, held by Kenya’s Paul Kipchumba in 2015. Jia was followed by Yang Dinghong (2:15:13) and Li Guoxiong (2:16:57).

The first three women to finish were Li Zhixuan (2:26:39), Jiao Anjing (2:33:55) and Chen Weifen (2:37:41). Ethiopian runner Melese Arage has the best timing of 2:20:37 in 2018.

Li from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was also the first Chinese female runner to complete the 42km race in the 2018 and 2019 versions. She was 6 minutes and 25 seconds faster than last year.

“After a long time of training and waiting, I finally took part in a race amid the pandemic. It was not easy, but I am happy to get this result,” said Jia.

“The track conditions are great,” said Li. “Physically I felt more at ease this year compared to the previous years.”

According to the organizers, 97 percent of male and 96 percent of female runners completed the race.

Despite the lower number of runners, the organizers had more work this year, with a series of measures to make the post-pandemic race smooth and safe.

The starting area at the Bund was about 15,000 square meters, allowing runners to keep a 1-meter distance from each other. They were divided into three groups and started their journey a few minutes apart to avoid crowding.

No spectator zones were arranged, though runners were still cheered by warm-hearted passers-by, and of course volunteers, along the route.

Some 3,872 volunteers and over 400 referees provided service for the event. Just like the runners and other front-tier staff, all of them underwent nucleic acid tests seven days before the race.

According to Zhou Jin, general manager of Shanghai Donghao Lansheng Event Management Co, the organizer of the event, preparation for this year’s marathon started as early as in May. “We kept frequent communication with anti-pandemic experts and discussed all details of the race with them,” said Zhou.

Applications from some of the competitors who came from high-risk provinces and areas were rejected.

“We have to thank those runners for understanding us, as well as other runners who cooperated with us and reported their temperatures daily 10 days before the race,” she said.


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