A Scenic Marathon in Qianjiang
The Qianjiang Fanwan Lake Wetland International Marathon kicked off in Qianjiang City of Hubei Province on April 21 of 2018. Enthusiastic runners, countless volunteers, strict traffic control, exciting onlookers and a lively awarding ceremony were just a few of the highlights of the day. As alert participants, we could strongly perceive how influential the event was— and how it would significantly help to promote Qianjiang both at home and abroad, and how this event will contribute heavily to the development of Qianjiang.
A Joint Effort for a Successful Game
To prepare for the first marathon in the city, Qianjiang spared no effort to ensure its success.
A quick online search will tell you a few facts about Qianjiang: It occupies an
2 area of 2004 km , with a population of a million, of which only about 200,000 to 300,000 people live in the urban area. The marathon race was held within the city’s Fanwan Lake Wetland Park, almost 20 km away from the downtown area.
Accommodations were a huge challenge for the city. To avoid causing inconveniences to participants, organizers and staff visited over 300 hotels in advance to find out their capacity and check up on their facilities. Unqualified hotels were ordered to make rectifications and upgrade their services. Starting on the morning of April 20, runners began to arrive in Qianjiang from all over the world, and checked in hotels. At the end of the event, no complaints on hotel services were filed.
4月 21 日，“2018 潜江返湾湖湿地国际马拉松”在中国湖北省潜江市举行。过万跑友，无数安保人员，无数志愿者，热情的观众，紧张的竞争，激动人心的颁奖礼，所有这些似乎和别处的马拉松赛事没有太大区别。然而，作为带着思考的亲历者，在我们眼中，无论是对国内还是对国外，这次潜马都有着特殊的影响力，对潜江市的对外开放和国际化将起到巨大的推动作用，值得浓重记下一笔。
接待压力是潜江面临的第一大难题。为了把赛事办好，不给参赛者造成不便，潜江市政相关部门，对全市 300多家宾馆酒店，进行接待能力调查统计，并对酒店和酒店客房存在的问题进行全面整改。从 20号上午开始，参赛选手陆续从四面八方赶到潜江，并顺利入住各自预订的酒店。直到赛事结束，没有一例抱怨住宿服务质量的投诉。
由于赛场离主城区还有一段距离，更因为交通管制，所有私家车辆不得进入赛场，赛事相关人员、参赛选手只能通过 400多辆大巴分批到达赛场。参赛选手和赛事相关工作人员共15000多人，相当一个军的兵力。这么多人要在 5 个小时内完成转移，其指挥和调度能力可见一斑。
No private vehicles were allowed to enter the race area for the sake of traffic safety. All participants, staff, volunteers, and runners could only take the official 400 buses to arrive at the starting line. More than 15,000 people had to be transported and scattered into four directions in 5 hours. What a tough task it is to coordinate and cooperate such a huge number of people!
Yet, Qianjiang did it. Soon after checking into our hotel, we received messages from the staff to inform us where and when to get on the bus and the plate number of the bus. At 3 am, we left the hotel for the gathering point. Traffic control had already started and police officers were busy coordinating vehicles. On our way, we saw buses parked at different locations. There were about 8 buses where we were to gather. At 3: 30 am, the bus left on time with no delay. When we arrived, the place was a sea of people. We found out later that three groups of people had been transported there before we arrived.
We will never forget that there was a pouring rain the morning we left for the destination. We found out later that the meteorological administration had used cloud seeding in order for the event to be held at the best weather conditions.
At about 6 am, we were informed that all runners had arrived and they should go to their designated gathering points. The movement of over 15,000 people in an orderly and errorless manner was again achieved by Qianjiang people.
Everything went as planned. The onlookers crowded in from towns and villages to the site. CCTV and other media were gathered at interviewing points. I suddenly recalled the afternoon of January 19, when the Hubei Provincial Government held the press conference to announce the marathon in Qianjiang, the leaders of the city, on behalf of all Qianjiang residents, had expressed their excitement about the event—“Finally Qianjiang people can run a marathon in their homeland.” They also promised to showcase Qianjiang’s beauty to people around the world. “We invite everyone to run here, eat crayfish, and experience Qianjiang!” The policemen and security staff hadn’t been home for 2 days. The game finished at 2:30 pm, so they didn’t even have
一切按计划顺利进行。观众也从各村各镇涌到赛场。中央电视台等各媒体记者们纷纷汇集到指定采访区域，从空中到地上，一切都进 入调式准备。写到这里，想到1 月19 日下午，在湖北省人民政府新闻发布厅举行的潜马发布会上，潜江市领导表达了全市人民的心声：潜江人终于能在家门口跑马拉松啦！同时承诺，“让全国乃至全世界人民看看我们潜江有多美！”“请参赛选手们跑马拉松、吃小龙虾，感受潜江风情，体验龙马精神！”警察和安保人员已经两天没回家，由于比赛2点半结束，他们甚至连中餐都来不及吃。
time for lunch.
This was the first time for Qianjiang to host such an international sports event. The city had no experience, but their confidence and spirit in confronting challenges was palpable. Every citizen played a part and all difficulties were overcome. It was touching how they collaborated as one and achieved success.
The Beauty of Fanwan Lake
Dawn came with a torrential downpour. The loud speaker at the site broke the silence of the morning at Fanwan Lake Wetland Park. The lake reflected the clouds in the sky. The redwoods were washed and stood refreshed by the rain, welcoming a new day. Bats disappeared while birds surfed the sky. A historical day for Fanwan Lake Wetland Park was unveiled.
The marathon site was an ocean of colors: the flags, the rainbow walking path, the redwoods, the riverbanks, the onlookers, the performances, the runners in costumes, the volunteers in their own outfits, and the security staff… CCTV broadcasted the event live to a worldwide audience of marathon lovers.
Qianjiang is named after the river it is on and is known for its lakes. The river and lakes intersect each other, and beautiful water views await at every corner. Fanwan Lake is the most famous and representative among all the lakes in Qianjiang.
About six years ago, I covered a report on Fanwan Lake. I remembered there was an island in the middle of the lake, above which, a pavilion stood. It was a fairyland. My daughter heard about the wild water chestnuts growing in the lake and insisted on picking them up with tree branches. Birds, most of them white mixed with some grey, as well as brown and black ones, flew through reeds, occasionally making stops on top of the reeds. Such grace and freedom made us jealous. On summer days, endless lotus leaves were like a huge green carpet linking the lake to the sky, and lotus flowers in sunshine are typically beautiful. I could see the view vividly through my mind’s eye.
Friends told me Fanwan Lake was no longer the same as before. A few decades ago, locals started filling up the lake in order to create more farmlands. The
2 lake once shrank to about 5 km . However, in recent years, the Qianjiang Municipal Government has adhered to the principle of sustainable development and has given priority to the protection and restoration of its wetlands. The Fanwan Lake restoration projects have been carried out— some farmlands were restored to lake, fishermen’s houses were relocated, and fishing nets were
朋友介绍说，返湾湖大变样了。上世纪，由于大面积围湖造田，返湾湖面积曾一度缩小到 7000 亩。近些年，潜江市坚持绿色环保的发展理念，高度重视湿地保护与修复，对返湾湖实施湿地生态修复工程，通过退田还湖、渔民搬迁、水上拆围等措施，扩大湿地面积到2万亩， 改进生态，鱼虾资源逐渐恢复，鸟类种群数量已增加到2万多只。去年，摄影爱好者还拍到世界极危动物青头潜鸭。
taken out. The area of wetlands
2 was enlarged to 13 km . The Ecological system was also improved, with fish and shrimp species re- introduced, and over 20,000 birds of different species returned. Last year, photography lovers came here to shoot baer’s pochard, a critically endangered type of duck.
The Qianjiang Marathon was much more than just a sports match. Participants had a full taste of it through their eyes, noses, ears, and tongues. The marathon was less a journey of sports than a journey of culture, cuisine, sightseeing, and leisure.
Co- organized by the Chinese Athletics Association and the CCTV Sports Channel, and solo operated by Wisdom Sports, the Qianjiang Marathon was the first marathon race taking place in a rural wetland. It was also the fifth event in a series of “Running China” events, after the Wuhan Marathon.
Runners who had just participated in the Wuhan Marathon would have had a different experience in Qianjiang. Here, the routes were village paths— different from asphalt roads. Along the route were green trees and fishy farmlands. The air, full of oxygen and muddy odor, smelled more pure, which boosted
runners’ stamina. No doubt the host of the marathon could not help dubbing it an “ecological marathon.”
A week ago, Kunming, the “City of Spring” in southwestern China, hosted the first event in the “Amazing China Eco- Marathon Series.” The Qianjiang Fanwan Lake Wetland Marathon was the second one. The people of Qianjiang were proud that they could parallel Kunming, which is a token of recognition of Qianjiang’s beauty across the country.
As for tasting Qianjiang, the crayfish was the first option. After strenuous running, runners met together and ordered crayfish in different cooking styles: stewed, stir fried, steamed… What a good life it was to eat the delicious food with a couple of drinks before going for a nice sleep. The next morning, runners could pay a visit to Cao Yu Park and Cao Yu Museum to learn more about Cao Yu, who is widely recognized as the Shakespeare of the East. Visitors could also learn about flower drum opera and shadow plays, in which Qianjiang’s local culture specializes.
The foreign runners in the Qianjiang Marathon mostly came from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and other African countries. They garnered the top three spots for both men and women. When we interviewed them about the event, they all said Qianjiang was beautiful and that they enjoyed it very much.
I sincerely hope this report will arouse further curiosity about Qianjiang on the parts of our readers. I invite all to visit this city of crayfish, rice, and water gardens, to experience a 2500 year- old culture. So come watch birds, see lotus flowers, and eat crabs in Fanwan Wetland Park…
Numerous exciting onlookers (Photo by He Dingke)
Female champion reaching the finish line (Photo by He Dingke) 女子冠军到达终点（何定科摄）
Cheering onlookers ( Photo by Chen Mengyun) 加油（陈孟云摄）
Kelai John Ekiru, male champion in full marathon, after crossing the finish line (Photo by He Dingke) 全马男子第一克拉义冲过终点后百感交集（何定科摄）
Marathon runners (Photo by Ma Yalun) 选手风采（马亚伦摄）
Wide-angle lens (Photo by Ma Yalun)
Dragon dance (Photo by Su Zhuolin)