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Marathons, running landscapes across centuries

author:Bright Web

The 26th Shanghai Marathon started on November 27 at Jinniu Square on the Bund, and this year there will only be an all-Malaysia event, ending at Yunjin Road, Longqi Road. Marathon was originally a place name in Greece, go back in history, do you know why it became a long-distance running sport? What are the little-known stories behind the movement entering China? How much do you know about the special marathons at home and abroad?

The first Olympic title came from his hometown

Located 30 kilometers northeast of Athens, the marathon means "fennel", named after the many fennel trees that grew here in ancient times.

Runners who participate in marathons are no strangers to the figure 42.195. 42.195 kilometers is the distance of the entire marathon, which is equivalent to the distance between two small cities, and this accurate number to three decimal places is related to the origin of the marathon.

It starts with a battle that took place on September 12, 490 BC. The battle was fought by the Persians and Athenians on the seashore of Marathon not far from Athens, known as the Greco-Persian War, in which the Athenians finally won the victory against aggression. In order to let the people of his hometown know the good news of the victory as soon as possible, the Athenian commander sent a soldier named Fidipitz back to report the message. He ran as fast as he could, and when he reached Athens, he was out of breath and fell to the ground after reporting the good news of victory.

In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece. Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, decided to set up a competition based on this historical event, named the "marathon". The marathon of the first Olympic Games was conducted according to the route that soldier Fidipitz ran from the marathon to Athens, and the distance he ran - 42.195 kilometers - was used as the distance of the marathon. Since then, the distance of the marathon has remained around 40 kilometers.

Coincidentally, the first Olympic marathon champion was Spyridon Ruis, a shepherd from the mountains of Greece. The hometown won the first marathon and was also the best memorial to the soldier Fidipitts.

The first domestic race started in Nanjing

More than a decade after the Olympic Games first appeared in marathon, in November 1910, the first marathon in China's history was held in Nanjing.

At that time, the famous Nanyang Gongye Association (the first world expo held by China) was being held in Nanjing, and in order to promote sports, the association initiated the organization of this "long-distance race walk" (the term "race walk" was used to refer to running in the late Qing Dynasty). A large number of historical materials prove that the event was confirmed to be the earliest marathon in China, and the end of this marathon was in the memorial tower in the venue of the Nanyang Counseling Association at that time, which is now the location of the Dingjiaqiao Campus of Southeast University.

Unlike a regular marathon, this race is divided into three disjointed sections that are completed in three days. China's first marathon had just over a dozen participants, with six runners running the entire course except for those who withdrew and fouled.

Shanghai's first marathon took place in 1929. The Shanghai Sports Association held the first city marathon, which ran about 27 kilometers, and the 41 runners at that time were mostly foreigners, Chinese the participants were only in single digits. By the time of the third tournament in 1931, 28 of the 68 competitors participated in the competition. However, the Shanghai event was only held for three editions and was suspended due to financial and other reasons.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the first National Games opened in Beijing in 1959, and the marathon was unveiled as an official competition in this National Games. After entering the National Games, the tradition of marathon events becoming an important event continues to this day. The marathon entered the National Games and is related to the 95-year-old Mr. Zhang Liangyou, who died not long ago, and he is known as "China's first marathon man".

Zhang Liangyou, a coal miner from Huainan, Anhui Province, has loved sports since he was a child, practicing running in his spare time. In the 50s of the 20th century, Zhang Liangyou wrote to Marshal He Long, who was in charge of the work of the National Sports Commission, three times, suggesting that the marathon be established. Soon after, the state sent people to his native Anhui Province to investigate the marathon movement. In December 1957, the National Sports Commission held the first marathon test race in New China in Hefei Dongxian County, and Zhang Liangyou won the championship in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 34 seconds in a difficult environment at that time, and also set the first marathon record in New China.

A window showing the cityscape

As an internationally popular long-distance running event, in recent years, marathon sports have become popular in China, and the number of participants has increased. The marathon used to be a stage for professional athletes, slowly entering the ordinary people. What are the well-known marathon events in China?

The Beijing Marathon was first started in 1981 and is referred to as "North Malaysia". From just a few dozen participating athletes, by 2019, the scale of participation has exceeded 30,000.

The Shanghai Marathon was first held in 1996, referred to as "Shangma". Today, the Shanghai Marathon has been promoted to the World Athletics Platinum Label event and the first Marathon Platinum Label event in China.

Dalian Marathon, Hangzhou Marathon, Xiamen Marathon are also well-known domestic city marathon events known to runners. The marathons in Dalian and Hangzhou both started in 1987, and the Xiamen Marathon was the latest compared to other cities, being held for the first time in 2003. Although the Xiamen Marathon is "young", it has developed rapidly, and it is the only event in the country to have been awarded the title of "Green Marathon", and last year it was certified as an event with the "World Athletics Elite Platinum Label".

Running cities are vibrant. The setting of the marathon track is the epitome of the city's historical style and modern development, and the track runs along scenic spots, cultural relics and modern urban landmarks, taking into account natural scenery, cultural landscapes and track conditions.

The Shanghai Marathon tracks include the Bund, Oriental Pearl, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Fuxing Park, Longhua Temple and other places, and in 2016 the CCP "Big" venue was added, and in 2017, the newly connected Huangpu 18.5 km and Xuhui 4.4 km Binjiang Road.

Along the Beijing Marathon, there are Tiananmen Square, National Centre for the Performing Arts, Bird's Nest, Water Cube, Yuyuantan Park, Beijing Winter Olympic Speed Skating Hall, etc., and there are many cultural landscapes along the way.

The Hangzhou Marathon is held along the picturesque West Lake, tea plantations and Qiantang River scenic area; Most of the tracks of the Xiamen Marathon are on the coastal ring road, surrounded by mountains and the sea, picturesque scenery, and eight of Xiamen's 20 scenic spots are dotted. "Hangma" and "Xiama" are among the most beautiful marathon routes in the world.

The "best" of featured marathons

Compared with city marathons, there are also some unique marathons in the world that lead runners to enjoy different scenery.

The coldest marathon in the world occurs in Greenland. Runners describe the "Arctic Circle Marathon" as running in a cold wonderland at the end of the world, which is a physical challenge. In October, the average temperature in Greenland is -9°C, most of the race is snow-covered gravel roads, a small part is directly on the Arctic Circle ice cap, and competitors must follow the track markings or risk falling through ice cracks.

The "Everest Marathon" in Nepal is the highest marathon in the world. It starts at the Khumbu Ice Falls, more than 5,000 meters above sea level near the base camp on the southern slope of Mount Everest, and ends at Namche Bazar at an altitude of 3,440 meters, which is unique in the world marathon. The marathon also serves as a charity to raise funds for health and education projects in rural Nepal.

South Africa's "Big Five" are the wildest marathons. The "Big Five" refers to five large African animals – lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards. Run in the African savannah and see these animals from afar. The terrain of this event is varied, in addition to grasslands, there are canyons, lakes, waterfalls, and many places are wildlife habitats. The most special thing about the "Big Five Marathon" is that the course of the race is not static, but depends on the range of the five animals on the day of the race. Compared to the city marathon, South Africa's "Big Five" marathon can be called a cross-country race.

Author: Peng Wei

Source: Liberation Daily