Rainy Race for Marathon Enthusiasts in China’s First Slow City

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Gaochun 2018 marathon

Despite the miserable weather over the weekend, runners who participated in this year’s Gaochun Marathon ought give themselves a pat on the back for braving the conditions. The “Bank of Nanjing Cup; 2018 Gaochun Cittaslow International Marathon” gathered together runners from Mongolia, Japan, Germany, Ethiopia and Kenya, among other nations.

A collective 12,000 runners from 23 countries took part in the event, while the Yangtze Evening News reported an impressive 83.5 percent of runners as foreign. Registration for the marathon this year, in comparison to those past, was also said to be “very hot”.

Coming in first for the men’s championship was Kenyan, Tangus Ben Kipkemoi, who completed the race in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 12 seconds. First in the women’s championship was Ethiopian, Worku Dibabe Birhanu, who took 2 hours, 44 minutes and 29 seconds. Local Chinese runner, Lin Xin, won the men’s championship in the Half Marathon, and in the woman’s, Wu Bing stole over the line first.

Known as “Gaoma” in Chinese (an abbreviation for Gaochun Marathon), the event has been running (pun intended) for 3 years now, with organisers more than happy with the outcome of the 2018 outing. The locale provides a beautiful setting for participants, spectators and sponsors, helping to bring more tourism to the area, with Gaochun holding the title of first international slow city in China. In addition to such status, the rural district boasts a unique character, rich human history, water features and superior crab cuisine.

Located in the northeast of Gaochun County in Nanjing City, Cittaslow Yaxi covers an area of 50 square kilometres with a 48-kilometre-long scenic belt, consisting of six villages and a population of 22,000. Known for its sunflowers, lavender, pear trees, tea, crab, red maple trees and golden rape flowers, Yaxi can be thought of as the-almost-perfect place.

No wonder Yaxi was bestowed the honourable title of “Slow City” by the Italian Cittaslow movement, that researches on life in places which have resisted the fast-moving world.

The Gaochun Marathon has been dubbed by local media as a “romantic running experience”, perhaps due to the natural scenery and “slow” lifestyle of the city. In addition to serious competitive runners, approximately 200 “couple runners”, wearing pink ensembles, also took part in the race. All runners who completed this year’s race received a “crab finishing package” (freshly baked crabs), while lucky entrants who completed an online knowledge quiz before the event, won, unsurprisingly, more crabs.

Acting quickly to the change in Nanjing’s weather, the organising committee were praised for their quick response in helping to accommodate the comfort of runners, providing them with raincoats, hot ginger tea, towels and locker rooms equipped with hair dryers. Present at the event were 2,800 security personnel, 14 ambulances, 100 medical staff and 484 medical volunteers, distributed along the track, in addition to 50 first-aid runners and 1,500 training volunteers.

For running enthusiasts who could not make it to the event in person, an online version was set up, in which over 180,000 people took part. In addition to the virtual Gaoma, the race was broadcast live on Youku (China’s Youtube).

It was also reported by local media that a portion of the event’s registration fees was donated to a charity that assists schools, with the money going towards the purchase of insulation blankets, thermal insulation hats, scarves, gloves, sports shoes, pencils, sharpeners and much more. The items shall be donated to the Wudaoyu Township Primary School in Puige County, Liangshan, Sichuan province.

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Renée Gray Beaumont
As an Australian journalist living in Nanjing for many years, Renée Gray Beaumont has a background in research, print and online publishing, taking great pleasure in discovering more about Nanjing with every article. 作为在南京居住多年的澳大利亚新闻工作者,Renee Gray Beaumont 有着调研以及印刷品和线上出版物的工作背景。她总是乐于在每篇文章里发现关于南京的内容。