14 January 2017, 8am
Shanghai International Marathon
Sun 30 October 2016
Zhao Wen, the vice mayor of Shanghai, and Du Zhaocai, vice president and general secretary of the Chinese Athletics Association, together fired the starting pistol to set 38,000 runners from 86 countries and territories off from the Bund Bull start line.
Waving goodbye to the run of wet weather during the previous weeks there were perfect conditions for the runners. Filled with expectation runners — some of whom were dressed in bizarre costumes — threw themselves forwards from the starting line to launch themselves into their journey around the central area of the metropolis.
The 21st Shanghai International Marathon has been making every effort to realise its core idea of “Beyond Running”: thinking like runners; treating them with sincerity; and implementing the event with professional spirit. This year the route was again adjusted to offer the best possible experience for the runners. During the Xintiandi section runners no longer have to take a U-Turn at South Huangpi Road but can instead run directly from Madang Road to South Huangpi Road past the site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party on Xingye Road.
After covering such a long distance as 42.195km, it is with relief and pleasure that runners approach the ceremonial finishing line in Shanghai Stadium. As 28,000 runners cross the line with their arms raised high they enjoy their moment of honour with the sound of the cheering squad alongside. Thanks to the special spectator seats place right beside the stadium track they are able to share the touching moment with their family and loved ones.
In the current surge of enthusiasm for marathon running in China runners have high expectations of the Shanghai International Marathon as a race of consistently good quality and reputation.
Highlighting its runner-oriented service this year organisers have increased the availability of portable toilets, sponges, water, sports drinks, supply stations, snacks and volunteers as means of maintaining the high standards of the race.
At the finish half and full marathon runners are handed a big finisher’s towel together with medals for 10km and 5km runners. The finish line has been moved from Cauldron Square to the infield of Shanghai Stadium so that the more extended post race space can better facilitate the flow of runners finishing the race: they no longer have to stop so abruptly. After entering the Shanghai East Asia Exhibition Hall, there are 300 masseurs available to ensure that the runners finishing the race receive the best possible service and everyone remembers the “Shangma experience” with satisfaction.
The concept of Shang-ma encompasses the full abundance that the city has to offer: its spirit and impact. Locals are joining in and experiencing the race in various ways while the vitality, heat and positive energy bursting out from the race deeply affects everyone living here. The Shangma slogan: “a city of running, a festival for the people” gets the idea across: the Shanghai International Marathon is becoming a keenly-anticipated festival for the whole city.
It is the full consideration of runners’ feelings by the organisers that fills the race with vitality. From the DIY design of the race T-shirt to the customisation of the post-race photo, the personal Nike video and tailor-made finish video provided by Shanghai Sports TV, the organisers have fully taken into consideration all the individual needs of runners in order to provide the best experience for them.
Similar care is taken of facilities along the course. With multiple music stations and cheering squads there is no loneliness of the long distance runner at any stage of the race. This year, with the help of the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee, 18 excellent school orchestras were selected to cheer runners along the course. This has also created a great opportunity for Shanghai schools to project themselves from an international stage.
Whether it is the Marathon weekend and carnival, the Shang-ma first-aid training sessions or the recruitment of volunteers, the ‘Shang-ma’ experience carries the official commitment of the city to the image and spirit of the event while creating the opportunity for citizens to join in and contribute to the race in their own unique ways.