Chi­nese de­but of gru­el­ing overnight re­lay is huge hit, China Daily re­ports from Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

The “mother of all re­lays” made its de­but in China last week­end — the lat­est symp­tom of the run­ning bug that is sweep­ing the coun­try.

From marathons to more fun-based themed events, such as “mud runs”, the na­tion’s bur­geon­ing love af­fair with run­ning con­tin­ues to grow.

At the ex­treme end of the scale, the Amer­i­can-born Hood to Coast Re­lay, re­named the BMW Hood to Coast China Re­lay — aka H2C China — at­tracted hun­dreds of hardy souls in He­bei prov­ince.

Run­ners from all walks of life and age groups braved the gru­el­ing 175.8-kilo­me­ter overnight event, which be­gan at Gent­ing ski re­sort near 2022 Win­ter Olympics co-host city Zhangji­akou.

Teams of five run­ners, with one car each, tra­versed stun­ning moun­tain ter­rain that reached al­ti­tudes of over 2,000 me­ters en route to the fin­ish line in the pic­turesque grass­lands of Zhongdu, Zhang­bei county.

Teams were ex­pected to com­plete the course within 27 hours.

De­spite the in­tim­i­dat­ing chal­lenge, the race proved a big hit with par­tic­i­pants.

“My mom is 59 years old and is one of my team­mates,” said Li Yi­nan, a 31-year-old PR di­rec­tor from iRENA, a Beijing-based sports in­dus­try plat­form com­pany.

“She is a re­tired high-school physics teacher. We started to run marathons only five months ago, and my mom has al­ready run 1,300 kilo­me­ters.

“We were so ex­cited when we heard H2C was com­ing to China, so we de­cided to start a team for it. This is dif­fer­ent from reg­u­lar marathon. To run the re­lay, more spe­cific and de­tailed plans are needed.

“We have to pre­pare dif­fer­ent gear for dif­fer­ent parts of the re­lay, all sorts of sup­plies and de­tailed plans of switch­ing run­ners.

“My pri­or­ity is fin­ish­ing the re­lay safely with my team­mates, con­sid­er­ing the age of my mom.

“The race it­self and the process of pre­par­ing for it, how­ever, are highly ben­e­fi­cial for our health and work ef­fi­ciency. More peo­ple should come.”

The orig­i­nal Hood to Coast Re­lay, founded in 1982, takes place in the US state of Ore­gon in Au­gust, tra­di­tion­ally on the Fri­day and Satur­day be­fore the La­bor Day week­end.

Some of the teams boasted run­ners who had al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced the Amer­i­can ver­sion.

We are so ex­cited that the sport of run­ning is so em­braced here in China ... Hope­fully, it will be held in China ev­ery year.” Feli­cia Hub­ber, pres­i­dent and race di­rec­tor of Hood to Coast

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Run­ners be­gin their epic jour­ney on the BMW Hood to Coast China Re­lay at Gent­ing ski re­sort near Zhangji­akou, He­bei prov­ince, last week­end.

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