High-fives all around in Hainan

2020-12-15 22:25:27

Saturdays BMW Hood to Coast ChinaHainan Relay was staged over a 156.5kilometer course with over 2000 runners taking on the challenge on the scenic tourist island. CHINA DAILY Teamwork wins the day as endurance addicts revel in return of Hood to Coast Relay to tourist hot spotSaturdays BMW Hood to Coast ChinaHainan Relay was truly a triumph of teamwork-both for the runners who conquered the 156.5kilometer course and for Chinas successful fight against COVID19.Considering the pandemic had wiped out the running calendar in the first of the year it was remarkable that Saturdays race was the second Hood to Coast Relay staged in China this year following an event in late August in Zhangjiakou Hebei province.Retired racewalk star Wang Liping was among the 2000plus hardy souls to take on the challenge over the weekend with the 2000 Sydney Olympic champion mightily impressed by all aspects of the event.The success of the two Hood to Coast events in China this year really gave confidence to runners and many people who work in the sports industry said Wang. During the pandemic in the first half of the year I could only exercise at home sometimes finding the opportunity to run outdoors if its possible.Its the first time for me to run the Hainan relay. Compared with Zhangjiakous edition its really different. I feel the Hainan race is more exotic. Over the last few years I can see the relay is developing-the organizational work the track and the service are all getting better and better. And the races profile continues to grow.The event started at the picturesque Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone at midnight with runners given a maximum of 24 hours to reach the finish line at Yalong Bay Central Square Beach where a party awaited them.The 156.5km course was comprised of 15 sections each of which needed to be completed by one member of the fiveperson teams. The other team members traveled by car and interchanged at the end of every leg.A field of over 2000 runners-88 percent of whom were visitors to Hainan-from 158 cities across China took on the challenge. Team Lujiazui New Bang Plus was crowned champion after clocking an impressive 8 hours 35 minutes and 3 seconds.Professional runner He Yinli reckons the relays blend of endurance and teamwork makes it a must for longdistance running enthusiasts.Running a marathon is test for yourself but the Hood to Coast relay is a team challenge. While one runs each section the other four cheer him or her on He who was named the 2018 Chinese Marathon Runner of the Year told China Daily.Even though its a very long course each runner only needs to finish at most about 15 kilometers at a time. So we have time to recover after each section.We really had a lot of fun. I joined Yiju Marathon Club about two years ago. Many of the countrys top runners are members so I can only improve by running alongside the best. We learn from each other especially from the upandcoming young talents.The pandemic forced the postponement of many events. But runners did actually have more time to train and prepare themselves during the prolonged offseason. So when events returned many runners delivered great results.The original Hood to Coast Relay founded in 1982 takes place in the US state of Oregon every August. The series debuted in China at Zhangjiakou in 2017 when 805 runners participated. The annual Zhangjiakou relay traverses through tough mountain terrain and picturesque grasslands.The race debuted in Hainan in 2019 with the knockon effects for tourism and the economy ensuring it receives huge support from the islands local government.Veteran runner Li Xiaobai who has completed all six of the World Marathon Majors says the relay is a refreshing alternative to regular longdistance events.Its the first time Ive run the Hainan relay. The atmosphere here is more similar to the original Hood to Coast Li told China Daily.The organizer did a great job. Its very dark in the opening sections at night but there are volunteers everywhere. The runners feel very safe.I have participated in the Hood to Coast relay since 2017 and also completed the US race. Its practically a miracle that we were able to stage two relays this year in China.The pandemic showed us just how much we need to stay healthy. It couldnt have been easy for organizers given there has been so much uncertainty. I completed both relays this year and I want to thank everyone who made this happen.The growing popularity of the Hood to Coast is testimony to Chinas booming running sector. According to data from the Chinese Athletics Association a total of 1828 marathon events were staged across the country in 2019 attracting over 7 million entries.Even with the pandemic disrupting the 2020 season the Chinese running scene remained remarkably resilient. By the middle of October China had hosted 368 online running events attracting over 52 million participants.Now with the pandemic under control in China big events like the Platinum Label Shanghai Marathon and the 2020 Chengdu Marathon have made their return.We are lucky. China successfully controlled the pandemic and thats the reason we could stage the two relays. We also want to thank the local governments of Hainan and Zhangjiakou. They provided us with great support said Li Lu the general manager of event organizer Starz Sports Running Culture.