Marathons in China have become a target area of growth due to their ability to generate millions of dollars while boosting national pride. But the rush to organize large-scale events may be hurting more participants than it is helping.
The Wall Street Journal reports that last Sunday, thousands of racers at a Qingyuan marathon required medical attention for a variety of reasons, including sprains (1,700) and muscle spasms (10,000).
For China’s cabinet, marathons are big business. In light of the country’s plan to “boost [their] sports economy to a value of 5 trillion yuan,” the program has also shed light on “inexperienced organizers scrambl[ing] to host races and inexperienced runners enthusiastically sign[ing] up” to participate.
In addition to the thousands of injuries sustained, there was also controversy surrounding the gift bags, which featured grape-scented bars of soap handed out to runners at the end of the race.
The soap’s labeling was in English, not Chinese, and showed an image of grapes. Understandably, runners mistook it “for energy bars and attempted to eat it.”
According to an event organizer, not only was the soap intended for runners to wash off after the race, but it was also “the most expensive” item in the gift bag.