Chinese runners grow appetite for marathons

Updated 2016-11-23 14:00:40 chinadaily.com.cn

Wearing a suit and tie, sitting in the governmental office, Zhao Pei, a 27-year-old, looks just like any other sober-faced civil servant in Beijing.But when he got fully geared up showing on the 36th Beijing international marathon game this September, he became athletic with full sportsmanship.

Like millions of others now in China, Zhao has developed a fever for marathon or other extreme sports.

Participating in marathon races has long been popular around the world, but it was only in recent years that the sport gained wide popularity in China. It has even become a fashion icon and the vanguard thing for many young Chinese.

Back in 1981 when China's first international marathon was launched in Beijing, less than 200 people participated in the race. Few of them could imagine that running a marathon would become such a hit in the near future.

In 2015, a total of four municipalities and 79 cities in 23 Chinese provinces or autonomous regions hosted marathons, 34 more than in 2014.

In the same year, the number of marathons registered by the Chinese Athletics Association totaled 134, 83 more than the previous year. Nearly 1.5 million runners from about 90 countries and regions competed in last year's events.

"At least 200 marathons will be held in China in 2016," said Huang Yi, manager of Chinese marathon organizer Wisdom Sports Group.

Nowadays, marathon is seen not only as a sport event in China but also a culture gala to enjoy and celebrate. For some entrants running a marathon is a chance to dress up with cosplay costumes, to fulfill a life objective, or propose to your love.

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