Thousands of injuries, mishaps at Chinese marathon prompt alarm

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As China’s economy develops, authorities are racing ahead with their efforts to promote long-distance running – but a calamitous marathon in south China has raised questions over whether Beijing is pushing forward at too quick a pace.

Thousands of people were injured while running a marathon on Sunday in Qingyuan, a city of some 3.7 million people in south China’s Guangdong province.

According to local newspaper Qingyuan Daily, medical workers performed first aid on participants more than 12,000 times, treating 10,000 muscle spasms and 1,700 sprains. Ambulances were called in 23 times and 17 people were hospitalised, including five in critical condition, the newspaper reported.

A spokeswoman for the Qingyuan health bureau confirmed the statistics to China Real Time.

She wasn’t able to give a figure for the total number of people injured but said it is likely less than 12,000, as each individual could have received more than one instance of treatment.

In the case of the Qingyuan marathon, the organizers’ lack of experience was also on display when it came to the gift bags given to runners. According to local media, organizers gave runners bars of grape-scented soap, which many participants mistook for energy bars and attempted to eat.

Photos posted online by race participants show the packages of soap were decorated with an image of succulent grapes, along with the words “fruity soap” and “extra moisturizer” written in English. There was no Chinese-language explanation on the package, which may have contributed to the confusion, many online commenters lamented.

The proliferation of events is part of an ambitious programme rolled out in 2014 by China’s state council, or cabinet, with the goal of boosting the country’s sports economy to a value of 5 trillion yuan by 2025-a 15-fold increase.

Local governments like to host marathons because they can bring cities prestige as well as tourist dollars and official funding, experts say.

Read the full article here.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016 – 09:58
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