Home Global News China’s deadly mountain race is a wake-up call for the country’s marathon...

China’s deadly mountain race is a wake-up call for the country’s marathon boom

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Zhang is the only survivor of the six athletes who are competing on a long distance route when severe weather causes freezing rain and a sudden jump in temperature.

The tragedy stunned the Chinese running community and sparked public outrage, prompting many to question whether the race organizers had planned properly or prepared participants for the extreme weather.

As China’s growing middle class becomes a hobby, marathons and consecutive races have exploded in popularity over the years.

Based on China Athletics Association, 1828 Marathons and other distance competitions were held throughout China 2019 Before the epidemic, more than 7 million participants took part. that in 2014, Only 51 matches were held.
The staggering growth was part of the government’s efforts to develop the country’s sports industry. In 2014, the General Administration of Sports of China Announced That the organizers no longer had to approve from the government or its subsidiaries to hold commercial sports competitions – a huge advantage for Running industry

According to experts and a contest organizer who spoke to CNN, local governments rushed to host the tournament to promote tourism and increase consumption, but weak industry regulations and poor government oversight posed safety risks. they say Races are often poorly organized and sometimes face injuries and deaths.

At last week’s emergency meeting, high-ranking sports officials Acknowledged There were “problems and shortcomings” in monitoring sporting events, and organizers were urged to improve safety measures and emergency planning.

“All departments and units … should focus on preventing and resolving major risks as a top priority,” the meeting read.

The Gansu provincial government, where the incident took place last Saturday, has launched an investigation into the incident, but critics say the deadly match is a wake-up call for officials across the country – especially in poorer provinces that promise to benefit. It tempts organizers to cut costs.

What went wrong in the match

Geological Park in Jingtai County near Baiyin City, where high altitude The Yellow River Shilin Competition was held, known for its imposing rock formations.

It is by no means an easy match. The route winds through narrow sandy valleys and through exposed mountains about 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) above sea level, and participants have only 20 hours to complete the 100-kilometer course.

To qualify for entry, runners must complete two full marathons or a race of more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) in the past two years. They pay 1,000 yuan ($ 157) to enter and are offered a 1,600 yuan ($ 251) prize to finish – with 15,000 to 2,000 yuan ($ 2,353 to $ 3,137) for 10 Top runner.

The official organizer is the Bain government, but the main work was done with a small company that won a bid of 1.5 million yuan ($ 240,000) to participate in the competition in 2018, and according to public company registration records, it continues.

According to one participant, the section between the second and third checkpoints is the toughest base of the race, with an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) at a distance of 8 kilometers (about 5 miles). Account On social networks

“There is no provision at checkpoint 3, which means that even if (the car) reaches the surface, there is no food or drink – let alone hot water. There is also no resting place on the mountain and no “There is no way out,” the post said.

According to this post, the climb is so steep that runners have to struggle in parts.

This is where Zhang died and many other motorists were destroyed.

Zhang used to struggle with strong winds and rain on a steep ascent, when the temperature suddenly dropped. The raindrops turned to hail, smashed his face and blurred his vision, Account On the Chinese social media site Weibo.

The 30-year-old coach of the sports club put pressure, but the wind was so strong that it kept falling.

“(I) fell more than 10 times. My limbs tightened and I felt my body slowly get out of control. After the last fall, I could no longer get up,” he wrote.

Zhang wrapped his alertness in a foil blanket at the last minute – the only frost protection he had in his backpack – and pressed the SOS button on his GPS tracker.

But no help came.

Instead, Zhang was exposed to the ice for two and a half hours under icy conditions, until a local shepherd spotted him and took him to a cave. He woke up an hour later and found himself drowning in a quilt by the fire, along with several other runners. They also take refuge in a cave.

Shepherd Zhu Qing rescued Zhang Xiaotao and five other runners in the deadliest Chinese marathon event in modern history.

The Bain city government blames the staggering cause of casualties on “sudden changes in the region’s climate.” But many believe that the organization’s officials should be responsible for not observing adequate safety and protection points.

Yi Jiandong, a sports health specialist at Wenzhou University, said State CCTV, which is basically a series of races, must establish refurbishment stations at least every 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

“This time the distance between the two supply stations was 16 km (about 10 miles), which meant that the runners did not watch for two or three hours – there was no drink, no food or a tent to rest, nothing. It posed a great danger. “He said,” he said.

No explanation was provided for participating in this contest. Bain Mayor Zhang Zhuchen apologized and bowed at a televised news conference on Sunday.

“As the organizers of this event, we have a lot of guilt and self-blame. We express our condolences to the victims and offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the injured,” he said.

Participants in social media and interviews with state media said organizers did not need to bring waterproof coats to escape. With the storm coming, many of them had emergency foil blankets to keep warm, but some had bedding. exploded Or torn in the wind. According to experienced sports experts and race organizers, windproof and waterproof jackets are mandatory for most long-distance mountain running events at high altitudes, where the weather can change quickly and dramatically.
Most of the victims of the race lost their lives HypothermiaDangerous drop in body temperature due to prolonged exposure to extreme cold. This can cause victims to gradually lose their ability to move or think, sometimes not even realizing that this is happening, and eventually leading to heart failure and death.

On social media, some commented on whether the organizers could control the weather more closely and perhaps leave the race.

The night before the incident, the Jingtai County Meteorological Department warned of strong winds and rain, the government Beijing News reported. Zhang, a runner, also noticed the wind on Saturday morning. “When we started at 9 am, the wind was so strong that many people lost their hats,” he wrote.

Experts also point to the lack of first aid and rescue resources at the scene, especially in the most difficult part of the race, where most runners have difficulty. The steep slope is inaccessible to cars and further complicates rescue efforts.

“(The organizers) have to be ready for rescue operations. Some races have helicopters, some have a professional rescue team – but people always have to be ready. This time it seems to me that these cases ( The settings are “low,” Jiangdong, a sports health specialist at Wenzhou University, told state-run CCTV.

An industry-level problem

Alex Wang, a travel blogger who worked for a Chinese outdoor sports company until 2019 and organized more than 10 routes At car races in China, he said, the events he participated in often employed an ambulance for every 10 kilometers.

But not all organizers were willing to pay for it, he said.

“It all depends on the cost. If you want to set up more rescue points and put people on standby during the race, you have to spend more,” he said.

Compared to urban marathons, running is late in China and has only become popular in the last few years.

Based on China Athletics Association, 481 trail races were held in 2019 – more than a quarter From all distance running events.

Unlike urban marathons, competition routes in China lack rules and regulations, and there are no specific regulatory bodies, Wang said. “In most cases, local governments act as gatekeepers, and the standards are very different,” he added.

In a Interpretation On its website, the CPC Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission described many of the ills of the marathon industry.

“Some competitions often focus only on economic benefits and are reluctant to invest more in services and safety. Some companies do not have the competence and ability to organize high-risk sports … and only seek success and quick profits. “And some local government officials do not want or do not know how to monitor such events.”

Comet competitions They are often kept in remote areas of the country that are lagging behind in terms of development and resources. End The race took place on Saturday in the remote suburbs of Gansu, one of China’s poorest regions.

Rao Liqun, an official with the Yunnan Road Running Association, told the state news agency Shin Hua Many organizers of China’s pilot competitions lack experience and expertise, and in these cases there is often serious medical help and emergency measures.
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in France, Italy and Switzerland, one of the most famous and challenging races in the world, has several medical stations along the way and requires Extensive list From mandatory equipment, from waterproof jackets, gloves and pants to bandages and food storage.
During one Emergency meeting On Sunday after the disaster, China’s General Directorate of Sports said authorities should set up a “circuit breaker” mechanism to shut down matches in the event of safety hazards.
As of Monday, more than a dozen running events across China have been delayed or canceled. A marathon in Gansu He was among the first to activate the “circuit breaker”, citing the dangers posed by the coronavirus and weather conditions.

But for the families of the victims, this lesson is very expensive.

“For you (the organizers), this may have been just a mistake at work, but it robbed my mother of her love,” the daughter of a victim Wrote On Weibo. “In my case, I lost my father, and (with him) lost part of my life.”

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