Chinese debut of grueling overnight relay is huge hit, China Daily reports from Zhangjiakou, Hebei province
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
Runners begin their epic journey on the BMW Hood to Coast China Relay at Genting ski resort near Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, last weekend.