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Chengdu challenge brings out the best

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-29 09:46
The second edition of the Chengdu International Marathon attracted 28,000 runners from 54 countries and regions to Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Saturday. [Photo/VCG]

Sichuan showcase event gaining global reputation for inclusiveness

It hasn't taken long for the Chengdu International Marathon to become a favorite for both professional and amateur runners from around the globe.

A total of 28,000 entrants from 54 countries and regions started the second edition of the Dongfeng Nissan Chengdu International Marathon in Sichuan province on Saturday, competing for 160,000 yuan ($23,000).

Organized by the Chinese Athletic Association, Chengdu municipal people's government and Wanda Sports, the 26-mile men's race was won by Kenya's Paul Muchemi Maina, who clocked 2:10.57.

On the women's side, China's Li Zhixuan claimed the gold with a time of 2:36.16.

The biggest name, however, was 36-year-old Olympic bronze medalist and multiple Word Marathon Majors champion Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich of Kenya, who failed to finish in his first crack at the Chengdu course but praised the event.

"China has a huge population and has invested so much in marathon," said Kiprotich, who won bronze at the 2012 London Games.

"This is a very good and challenging course, and China has very high potential in the sport. The athletes and coaches should maintain their high motivation for training, and keep pushing to improve. If they do so, they will have better results."

Besides showcasing star professionals, the Chengdu run caters to amateurs, including Liu Ying, a 58-year-old who is battling cancer.

Liu has become a long-distance legend in Sichuan province for competing in six World Marathon Majors in two and a half years after being diagnosed with cancer. Friends refer to her as a "sixstar" marathon veteran.

"The purpose of joining the Chengdu marathon is to challenge myself again," said Liu, who is a local resident.

"I cannot control the length of my life, but I want to try my best to expand the width of my life.

"Marathon has developed dramatically in our country in recent years, but the domestic events vary greatly in terms of quality. The Chengdu International Marathon is great, and I want to finish the race in my hometown and add one more 'star' in my running career."

Four wheelchair athletes also took part-two in the full marathon and two in the half-marathon. To guarantee their safety, each wheelchair athlete was assigned two protective runners who volunteered their services from a local running club.

"I love marathon because of its high tolerance. Everyone can run. Others use their legs, but we use our hands to measure the course," said 37-year-old Liu Feng, who lost her leg in a car accident 16 years ago.

"I started in the sport in 2017 and so far I have participated in 10 marathon and half-marathon events. We have a wheelchair running group.

"We also keep training with my friends in parks and playgrounds.

"Apart from promoting a healthier lifestyle, marathon has improved my social life. I have gotten to know lots of the volunteers and runners just like me.

"You know, I used to hate to leave my home, but after getting involved in this sport, I now like outdoor activities.

"We want more people to know us. Sympathy is not what we want. We want better obstacle-free environments for marathons, like we have here in Chengdu.

"The freer environment will help us rejoin society."

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