There’s a running boom in China. The number of runners competing in Marathons has increased at a rapid pace in China over the past decade.
NPR reported that in the 6 years prior to 2017, the number of Marathons in China grew from 22 to over 400.
The fast growth has led to some organizational issues. At The Qingyuan Marathon in 2016 participants were given bars of soap in their goody bag. The packaging was in English, and runners fell sick after mistaking the soap for energy bars.
In just the past few weeks, a a few issues have been reported regarding Chinese races.
Wei Jang was interrupted by volunteers attempting to hand her a flag. She was fighting for the lead at the time, when the first volunteer attempted to hand her the flag. The second volunteer did hand her a drenched flag. It appears that these attempts disrupted her rhythm and may have cost her the victory.
Who is not patriotic? The Chinese marathon runner who dropped a national flag in the sprint phase and lost the gold medal, the volunteers who handed over the flags and interrupted the runner, or the organizer who failed to respect the sports spirit? https://t.co/VowOVHA7A6 pic.twitter.com/dNVZoGkjkW
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 19, 2018
Shenzhen Half Marathon
By now everyone has seen the video and heard about the over 200 disqualifications at The Shenzen Half Marathon. I don’t see this as much of an organizational issue. I applaud the race for issuing the disqualifications and bans. That is more than most races in The United States do to course cutters. There were for both bib swapping and course cutting.
However at least one other participant found another way to finish the race:
As seen in the photo grouping, she started out running (or walking) the race, but eventually hopped on a bike. The bike she is riding is an ‘ofo’. Ofo is a bike sharing company. She rented the bike on the course.
According to the e-mailer, some companies in China ‘Strongly Encourage’ their employees to run in these races in an effort to boost their employers’ Corporate visibility. Many of these runners are ill-prepared to run long distances.
This sort of forced or strongly encouraged participation could be a contributing factor to the cheating witnessed in Shenzhen.
Nanning International Marathon
Also in the news this past week were the actions of an official following Gelgelo Tona Outoya’s victory in The Half Marathon.
While I am uncertain whether the official caused him to fall. It is clear that he did attempt to stop him immediately after he crossed the finish.
The rapid growth has undoubtedly resulted in some issue from an event organization standpoint. This growth is encouraged by The Chinese government. This likely has led to ill-prepared runners joining the movement. This is not unique to China. There are runners that enter marathons here that are also ill-prepared for the distance (yours truly included). No matter where the race is held, when runners are faced with a choice of a DNF (Did Not Finish) or cheat, some will unfortunately choose to cheat.
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