Global Times US Edition - - DEPTHO -

While this year’s sea­sonal win­ter smog has ar­rived ear­lier than usual due to un­usual weather con­di­tions, thou­sands of par­tic­i­pants com­pet­ing in the 2017 Bei­jing Marathon on Sun­day had the priv­i­lege of run­ning un­der blue skies.

More than 30,000 run­ners from 33 coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pated in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, many don­ning eye-catch­ing cos­tumes. Start­ing in Tianan­men Square, the 42.195-kilo­me­ter marathon route con­cluded at the Olympic Sports Cen­ter Area, which is home to the iconic Bird’s Nest sta­dium.

Moroc­can Salah Ed­dine Bounasr won the men’s race with a win­ning time of 2 hours 11 min­utes 18 sec­onds and Ethiopian run­ner Beyene won the women’s con­test. Chi­nese run­ner Li Zicheng ranked ninth in the men’s group and He Yinli came in fifth in the women’s group.

Nearly 100,000 peo­ple ap­plied for this year’s com­pe­ti­tion. Amid this huge de­mand, many re­sorted to the black mar­ket to get a num­ber. While the en­try fee for Chi­nese par­tic­i­pants was 200 yuan ($31), the price for a black mar­ket bib rose to 2,000 yuan, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

The or­ga­niz­ers an­nounced that peo­ple who trans­fer their place in the marathon to others will be barred for life, but many said that the author­i­ties were un­able to iden­tify all of the 30,000 par­tic­i­pants.

To de­ter cheats, the Bei­jing marathon com­mit­tee ar­ranged video sur­veil­lance of the en­tire route and for the first time in­tro­duced new tech­nol­ogy to iden­tify the au­then­tic­ity of run­ners’ iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags.

In re­cent years, marathon run­ning has been re­garded as a mid­dle-class sport which has drawn mil­lions of fans all over the coun­try. Founded in 1981, the Bei­jing Marathon is viewed as China’s “na­tional” marathon.

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