Sto­ries Be­hind Wuhan Marathon 2017

Special Focus - - Contents - Liu Dongli

120,000 reg­is­tra­tions. 22,000 run­ners from 29 coun­tries and re­gions. 5,000 vol­un­teers. 821 med­i­cal staff. Mil­lions of cheer­ing cit­i­zens…

Early on the morn­ing of April 9th, 2017, a spring driz­zle was fall­ing, but noth­ing could drench the pas­sion in the city of Wuhan. It was fi­nally the day for the Wuhan Marathon, a party for all cit­i­zens and all run­ners.

The Most Beau­ti­ful Route

The Wuhan International Marathon has be­come a high­light for international run­ners since the first one was held last year.

In or­der for run­ners to see the best Wuhan has to of­fer, the or­ga­niz­ers have de­signed a route that en­com­passes the River Beach, Shahu Lake, East Lake, and Moshan Moun­tain, as well as other land­marks and pop­u­lar streets. This route al­lows run­ners to see both the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural sites, as well as the nat­u­ral scenery of Wuhan City while run­ning. The beau­ti­ful route is one of the ma­jor rea­sons for the Wuhan Marathon to be widely rec­og­nized.

Now, let’s fol­low in the steps of our run­ners and take a good look at the beau­ti­ful Wuhan.

The start­ing point of the Wuhan Marathon is at Hankou River Beach Park, the largest of its kind in Asia, cov­er­ing 1.6 mil­lion square me­ters. You may have heard of Shang­hai’s Bund; the River Beach Park is 8 times its size.

Leav­ing from here, run­ners fol­low along down Yan­jiang Av­enue, built in 1843 dur­ing the Con­ces­sion Pe­riod, along the river to pass Jiang­hanguan Build­ing, the City Hall (for­mer Ger­man Em­bassy), and 12 other well pre­served hun­dred-year-old his­tor­i­cal build­ings. It is quite a taste of his­tory.

The 110-year-old Zhong­shan Av­enue is re­garded as one of the top streets in China. This main thor­ough­fare is named af­ter Sun Yat- sen, or in Man­darin, Sun Zhong­shan—the founder of the Repub­lic of China. On De­cem­ber 28th, 2016, the ren­o­vated Zhong­shan Av­enue was re-opened. Ev­ery few hun­dred me­ters, the scenery changes dra­mat­i­cally: from tra­di­tional-style red wa­ter tow­ers to the old San­deli house to the nos­tal­gic Changqing Square … There is a change of scenery with ev­ery step.

Chair­man Mao Ze­dong wrote a poem when he cruised along the Yangtze River in Wuhan and saw the con­struc­tion work of the Yangtze River Bridge:

Wind moves the wall, tur­tles and snakes stay silent, a grand fu­ture takes shape.

A bridge con­nects south and north, and an easy path to cross the bridge.

Run­ning on the 60-year-old Yangtze River Bridge, one can imag­ine the his­tory in the breeze and ap­pre­ci­ate the beau­ti­ful scenes of the fer­ries and ships float­ing along the river. The run is never bor­ing.

Af­ter run­ning over the Yangtze River, run­ners see the Yel­low Crane Tower, which is a renowned Tower in China. To­gether with the Qingchuan Pavil­ion and An­cient Lute Ter­race. Yel­low Crane Tower is one of Wuhan’s top scenic spots, and one of the top three tow­ers in South China, along with the Yuyang Tower in Hu­nan and Teng­wang Tower in Nan­chang City of Jiangxi Prov­ince. Many fa­mous Chi­nese po­ets have writ­ten about these great tow­ers over the past few mil­len­nia.

The high­light of this year’s marathon is the brand new East Lake Green­way. Un­veiled on De­cem­ber 28th, 2016, the 28.7km green­way con­nects Moshan Moun­tain, the Ting­tao Scenic Area, and the Luoyan Scenic Area, and has four routes: the on-lake green­way, the lake moun­tain green­way, the Moshan Moun­tain green­way, and the coun­try green­way.

Along the lake and the moun­tain, there is wide-open space that al­lows run­ners to take in the scenery. There are hid­den vil­lages among the lush trees. There are so many col­ors and botanic species to add to the beauty.

These plants and land­scapes form such a beau­ti­ful por­trait of moun­tains, build­ings, and roads that run­ners for­get they are in a com­pe­ti­tion with more than 10,000 peo­ple. Along this 42.195km marathon route, there are trans­formed tra­di­tional roads such as Jiqing Street, Zhong­shan Av­enue, and Li­udu Bridge, and there are new Wuhan land­marks such as Han Street, the Hanxiu Opera House, and the East Lake Green­way. Like re­veal­ing a scroll paint­ing, the route gives a taste of both his­tor­i­cal and mod­ern Wuhan.

A brand-new Wuhan is show­cas­ing its charm to the world.

The Most Beau­ti­ful Run­ners

2:13:51! The Moroc­can run­ner Zachary Aboudad gar­nered the men’s gold with an ex­cel­lent time, de­spite the rain. Ethiopia’s Egi­gayehu As­nakech Mengistu won the women’s gold with a time of 2:34:50.

Al­though the top three win­ners were all for­eign­ers. Chi­nese run­ners also did well with Li Zicheng and Li Wen­jie grab­bing gold medals for Chi­nese men and women at re­spec­tively 2:17:23 and 2:39:40.

Marathon run­ning is the sport with the widest par­tic­i­pa­tion, and ev­ery run­ner is wor­thy of our re­spect. The 71-year-old Wang Yulin fin­ished in 3:32:23, faster than many run­ners much younger. Cheng Ming, a 47-yearold blind masseuse, man­aged to fin­ish the 21km half marathon, drenched in rain. Five am­putees from the New Life Camp of Wuhan’s Dis­abil­ity Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter formed a wheel­chair team and re­ceived warm cheers.

Win­ning the gold medal is glo­ri­ous, but the sports­man spirit of chal­leng­ing one­self, push­ing lim­its, per­sis­tence, and never giv­ing up are cer­tainly more im­por­tant.

As the time was ap­proach­ing 2 pm, the 6h30min clos­ing time of game, 26-year-old Tang Yu be­came the last run­ner to cross the fin­ish­ing line. “This is my first marathon. I re­ally hoped I could win my first medal in a marathon here in my home­town,” said Tang Yu. She is a nurse and loves train­ing. Com­plet­ing a marathon was her dream. There­fore, even through the rain and pain, the girl from Wuhan man­aged to cross the fin­ish­ing line.

The Most Beau­ti­ful Ser­vice Teams

A suc­cess­ful marathon not only needs the par­tic­i­pa­tion of run­ners and the cit­i­zens of the host city, but so many peo­ple be­hind the scenes work­ing day and night.

The night be­fore the marathon, on the 8th, the rain was pour­ing. Teams of med­i­cal per­son­nel, se­cu­rity guards, weather fore­cast­ers, gen­eral sup­port staff, and vol­un­teers spent a sleep­less night mak­ing fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for the 2017 Wuhan International Marathon.

Near Wanda Plaza on Han Street, five po­lice­men from the Wuchang Traf­fic Po­lice were check­ing one by one the con­tact in­for­ma­tion of own­ers of all the cars parked along the run­ning route to ask them to move their cars. They worked till dawn and only took quick naps. At 5:30 am on the 9th, they re­ported to their se­cu­rity posts on time.

Tu Xiaozhen is a team leader for the Wuhan City Jan­i­tors. She was in charge of clean­ing five sec­tions of the route. The day be­fore the event, she led more than 30 jan­i­tors to clean the Yangtze River Bridge, Yel­low Crane Tower South Road, and Pengli­uyang Road with high pres­sure wa­ter jets—it took them six hours. At 6 am on the 9th, a strong wind blew leaves and flow­ers on the Yangtze River Bridge and it was again cov­ered up. Tu Xiaozhen im­me­di­ately led her team to the bridge and cleaned it up one hour be­fore the game started.

The run­ners dis­played their sports­man­ship and strong spir­its while the ser­vice peo­ple helped to pre­serve the ideal im­age of the city. Af­ter the run­ners ran past the Yangtze River Bridge, the rain be­came heav­ier but the armed po­lice­men re­mained at their posts. A girl held her um­brella up for one of them.

On Donghu South Road, a boy walked up to a po­lice­man who had stood in the wind and rain for more than 3 hours and said, “Sir, Ma’m, you must feel re­ally cold. My mom made gin­ger soup for you.” The soup not only warmed the po­lice­man’s body, but also their heart.

A marathon is not only a dis­play of run­ners’ stamina and courage, but is also a dis­play of the warmth and cul­ture of the host­ing city.

Photograph by Ke Hao

Photograph by Zhang Peng

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.