China to build a sus­tain­able marathon sport in­dus­try

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - ENTERPRISE -

While China’s sports in­dus­try, fu­elled by the rise of a na­tional en­thu­si­asm for marathons and run­ning, is boom­ing in re­cent years, more mea­sures still need to be taken by busi­nesses to fur­ther de­velop the in­dus­try and to make the mar­ket sus­tain­able, said ex­perts and in­dus­try lead­ers dur­ing The First Marathon Sports Tourism Fo­rum.

The fo­rum was held on July 22 in Li­u­pan­shui, a city in the moun­tain­ous area in West Guizhou Province. Since 2013, the area, dubbed “Cool City of China” due to its mild tem­per­a­tures that feel pleas­ant es­pe­cially in sum­mer, has been or­ga­niz­ing the Li­u­pan­shui In­ter­na­tional Mara

The 2017 marathon ended on July 23 and drew more than 30,000 000 par­tic­i­pants from nine coun­triess and regions across the world. . The run­ners, both pro­fes-- sion­als and ama­teurs, com­peted in a full marathon, a half-marathon, a 10-kilo­me­ter run and a mass-health run.

“The Li­u­pan­shui In­ter­na­tional Marathon pro­vides a sam­ple in brand­ing a marathon event ent by ex­plor­ing the re­gion­all re­sources and spe­cial­ties foundf di in China, where hun­dreds of marathon events are be­ing held each year,” said Bao Mingx­iao, chief of the Re­search Cen­ter for De­vel­op­ment of Sports In­dus­try at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

Nev­er­the­less, be­hind the mar­ket growth of the econ­omy, a prob­lem in China’s marathon mar­ket is the strong sim­i­lar­i­ties among the var­i­ous marathon events.

“Li­u­pan­shui marathon has a lot of chances to stand out, such as the city’s cool weather that al­lows it to be an ideal pla­ce­pla among the few choic­escho in Chi­nese cities to hold­hol a marathon in the scorch­ingscorchin sum­mer,” said Bao. Mean­while,M hil event or­ga­niz­ers have been ap­ply­ing cre­ative ap­proaches to mar­ket the Li­u­pan­shui Marathon brand, in­clud­ing the estab­lish­ment of China’s only marathon mu­seum and hold­ing a fo­rum fo­cus­ing on marathon and tourism econ­omy.

To make the marathon mar­ket more sus­tain­able, Bao sug­gested that a marathon event can be in­te­grated with lo­cal tourism, in which run­ners can travel to var­i­ous lo­cal scenic spots and ex­pe­ri­ence lo­cal cul­ture.

He Wenyi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Pek­ing Univer­sity’s China In­sti­tute for Sports Value, said cities like Li­u­pan­shui have op­por­tu­ni­ties to build it­self as a sports tourism des­ti­na­tion in China.

“Cre­ative think­ing and meth­ods are needed to make the marathon mar­ket pe­riod,” said He.

One of the ways is to es­tab­lish a place as re­peat event lo­ca­tion. For ex­am­ple, The Strong­man All Ja­pan Triathlon Miyako-jima is con­sid­ered a pil­grim­age event for the world’s triathlon lovers.

De­spite the fact that there are 500 marathons be­ing held in China each year, the num­ber is low con­sid­er­ing China’s huge pop­u­la­tion and vast ter­ri­tory, ac­cord­ing to He.

Liu Xiaolei, the founder and CEO of Bei­jing Rapid Sport, a com­pany that spe­cial­izes in or­ga­niz­ing run­ning events, sports tourism and sports mar­ket­ing, said that a marathon event will not be suc­cess­ful with­out backup from the Chi­nese govern­ment, em­pha­siz­ing the key role of govern­ment in a sport­ing event.

“It is thanks to the govern­ment that we can present four marathon events in Li­u­pan­shui,” said Liu, whose team is the op­er­a­tor of the marathon.

“We are ded­i­cated to or­ga­niz­ing more ac­tiv­i­ties in line with the event, with an aim to pro­vide more ex­cit­ing com­pe­ti­tion and qual­ity ser­vices to the run­ners.”

Photos: Cour­tesy of Bei­jing Rapid Sport

The marathon or­ga­niz­ers and guests dur­ing the tourism fo­rum in Li­u­pan­shui; Left: Liu Xiaolei, the founder and CEO of Bei­jing Rapid Sport.

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