8 am yesterday, Sunday, 14 April, saw the starting gun fired for the Nanjing Bank of Ningbo Xianlin Half Marathon in Yangshan Park. An impressive 12,000 runners turned out to take part in the event which attracted people from 32 countries and regions.
Co-sponsored by the China Athletics Association, the Nanjing Qixia District Municipal People’s Government and the Nanjing Xianlin University Town Management Committee, the marathon’s 21 kilometre “scenic-city-forest” route was intended by organisers to be as much an advertisement for Xianlin’s high-quality, humane and ecological environment as it was showcase of participants’ stamina.
This year’s event comprised the half marathon, mini marathon and family mini marathon, with participants from the United States, Germany, Australia, Italy and Ethiopia, to name but a few, while for 2019, the competition also received an all-round upgrade. Runners were offered tickets to scenic spots around Qixia Mountain to fully appreciate the historical and cultural customs of the local area, while technology was also embraced, utilising face recognition and QR codes so that participants could keep track of their location at all times.
Along the route, 12 community and university venues staged performances for the entertainment of spectators and the encouragement of runners, such as cheerleading, dragon and lion dancing, Qixia drum dancing, as well as guitar, martial arts and hip-hop performances, that together brought a certain charm, if not bizarreness, to the event.
In addition, runners who have participated in the Xianlin Half Marathon for 3 consecutive years were awarded a third anniversary badge. Elsewhere, sponsors provided complimentary services to participants, such as pre-competition makeup photography, after-race physiotherapy and ice-water foot baths.
In the end, it was Stephen Kipkemboi Sitienei from Kenya who crossed the line first in the 2019 Nanjing Xianlin Half Marathon, with a time of 1.03’16”. Speaking with the Yangtze Evening News, he was quoted as saying, ”I didn’t expect to achieve such a good result today”, while going on to comment that both the weather and the track environment were good. Sitienei paced himself throughout the race, waiting until just 2 kilometres from the end to make his bid for victory by pulling away from the other front runners.
First in for the women was Chemaimak Susy Cehbet, also from Kenya, in 1.15’47”. The Chinese men’s championship was taken by Cheng Qianyu, in 01.10’33”, while Qiu Huijun took first place for the Chinese women’s team, with a time of 1.30’55”.
China never fails to impress with its statistics associated with the staging of such large-scale events. In this case, the Xianlin Half Marathon enjoyed the presence of 1,739 police officers, among whom 1,010 were involved in traffic control along the track to ensure a safe and smooth race. To keep everyone healthy, there were 13 fixed and mobile medical support points, 120 ambulances with 13 support vehicles, 128 medical personnel, 80 medical aid providers on the track, 210 medical observers, 80 first-aid runners and two fixed-point hospitals. All were give the support of 1,261 volunteers.