Chinese go the distance for marathon

Updated: 2015-11-02 12:00

By Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

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 Chinese go the distance for marathon

Runners from around the world participate in the Parade of Nations at the TCS New York City Marathon opening ceremony on Oct 30 in Central Park. More than 200 runners from China registered for the race on Sunday. Hezi JIang / China Daily

Ball of Yarn donates the money to schools in poor rural area. So far they have helped 11 middle schools. With the money, the school can build tracks and other sports facilities.

There are also more local running groups. Hangzhou Marathon Running Club is a not-for-profit organization that helps locals learn about running and train for races.

To become a member, one has to provide proof of good health and agree to meet the required monthly running distance - 50 kilometers for men and 30 for women.

The club holds group running events regularly and training sessions before major marathon races. This year, 67,000 people applied to run at the Hangzhou marathon, which can accommodate 30,000 runners.

However, runners who can't get in have other opportunities. There have been about 40 marathon races in Zhejiang province alone this year.

"We are all volunteers," said Wu Zifu, the chairman of the running club and CEO of Dunan Holding Group. "We are equal at a platform like this, and volunteers can communicate with each other and make new friends while doing something very meaningful."

This time he came to New York to finish his last of the six world marathon majors. His daughter also was here to cheer for him.

"My dad drinks so much less often after he started running," said his daughter. Asking if her father has changed in other ways, she said, "He's better at shopping now. He can shop in a sports store for hours."

Running in a different country means more than just running, said Tian.

"I run for culture," he said. "When running at the Athens Marathon, I could feel the history of 2,500 years and tried to figure out what marathon really is. When running in Berlin, I knew we were crossing the Berlin Wall. We ran for peace. At New York, I learn about the relationship between the marathon and 9-11. We ran to honor the lost."

Wang Qi said many love the international marathons because they are better organized and have a better atmosphere.

"Chinese marathons have been improving, and there is still a long way to go," he said. "And at these major marathon events, the spectators cheer for everyone."

"When I ran, they shout, 'Go, China!'" said Xiaobai Li, who carries a national flag to every international race. "The whites, the blacks, everyone cheers for us."

While most non-professionals run for health and fun, Ma Hongliang, 47, runs for the result because they get no money just for "fun".

He started running in his small town of Chuxiong when he was 17. Every day, he gets up at 5 am and runs regardless of the weather. He just runs, like Forrest Gump.

At 38, he and his family went to Shenzhen because a coach whom he met while running told him that he had talent. It was his first marathon, his first time away from his small city. He finished 122nd.