Stories Behind Wuhan Marathon 2017
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 Zhang Peng