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Harbin latest Chinese city to catch ‘marathon fever’

Updated : 2016-08-30

By Wang Wei ( chinadaily.com.cn )

More than 30,000 runners took to the streets of Harbin on Aug 28 for the 2016 Harbin International Marathon.

This was first full marathon event ever to be staged in the city, as "marathon fever” continues to sweep across China.

A total of 134 marathons were held nationwide in 2015, a 260% increase on the number held in 2014, according to the Chinese Athletic Association, and this figure is expected to grow again this year.

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According to Wang Dawei, deputy director of the Track and Field Management Center at the General Administration of Sport of China, city governments all over the country are organizing marathons because they offer a unique opportunity to boost their cities’ image.

"All cities like to host marathons so they can show off their city’s charm and civilization,” said Wang.

Participation in marathons is also rocketing, with around 1.5 million people taking part in marathon events in 2015, according to CAA figures.

However, the craze for long-distance running is also causing problems as an increasing number of inexperienced runners find out the hard way that competing in a marathon is much harder than it looks.

The most dramatic example of this was a marathon held in Qingyuan, Guangdong province this March, where 12,000 of the 20,000 participants had to receive medical attention during the race.

Luckily, no such problems occurred in Harbin’s event on Sunday, in which 165 overseas athletes from 33 countries took part.

Kenyan runner Jiluyi won the men’s race, while Chinese athlete Sun Lamei emerged victorious in the women’s event.

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