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Sub-anchor: Deaths, injuries cast shadow on marathon frenzy


12-13-2016 05:07 BJT

Marathon running is a craze which seems to be sweeping the country at the moment. Cities are often competing against one another to draw to world's top long-distance runners, while many have to go through a lottery just to find a place at the start line. But marathon running isn't risk-free and many do succumb to the extreme physical exertions.

Q1, Yingqiao, what can you tell us?

A1, Sadly, with its massive popularity also comes injuries and even sudden deaths. One of the most recent cases: on Saturday, organizers of a half-marathon in the southern city of Xiamen say two runners collapsed during the race and later died. One of them suffered sudden heart failure just five kilometers from the finish. The second died after crossing the finish line. Both were given first aid, like cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and were rushed to hospital, but to no avail. This incident doesn't stand alone, unfortunately. Earlier this year, two more runners died in local marathons. In April, in Wuhan, about 20 percent of the enormous field were treated for injuries like sprains and spasms. In March, in Qingyuan, Guangdong province, medical workers performed first aid 12 thousand times, treating 10 thousand muscle spasms and 17-hundred sprains. 17 people were sent to hospital, five in critical condition. There are reports that in the past three years, at least 10 runners have died in marathons in China. Behind these numbers are the huge number of people who simply didn't prepared properly and simply weren't fit enough for long-distance running.

Q2, Alarming numbers... but besides inadequate training, what else is to blame?

A2, It's the immaturity of these events really. Municipalities throughout China organize road races as publicity events to promote economic development. China's marathons  have been on a meteoric rise. In 2013, there were just 39, last year, the number was 134. This year, as of October, there were already more than 300. Participants are required to provide medical documents, but most races require very simple ones: your pulse, blood pressure and a cardiogram. However, doctors say these can't rule out the possibility of sudden deaths. In contrast to the low threshold for marathons in China, races like the Boston Marathon have much more stringent requirements. The latest ones require runners aged between 18 and 34 years to prove that they ran the distance in 3 hours 5 minutes for men and 3 hours and 35 minutes for women. The Paris Marathon requires participants to prove that they can run for 20 kilometers.

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