Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beijing Marathon

The Beijing Marathon was this morning. Thirty thousand runners started at Tiananmen Square and ran through Dongcheng, Xidan and Haidian districts before finishing the race in the Olympic Village.

The conditions today are cool, wet and blustery. That didn't stop people from standing at the side of the road and cheering though. The route passed right in front of my building. After watching the first runners from the warmth of my kitchen I bundled up and went outside to cheer for the non-elite runners and add my voice to the mix of fans yelling jia you. There were athletes wearing jerseys from the U.S., Italy and Thailand, as well as a number of Chinese universities. A small group of students from China Agricultural University and I stood together to cheer - they told me the names of the Chinese universities and I told them, in Chinese, the countries of the foreign runners wearing their countries' names in English (or Italian).

For the first several hours the roads were closed to vehicle traffic, other than the buses that picked up injured or over-tired runners. At 11:30 the cars started coming. The last runners didn't pass by until noon though, making it a dangerous spot for the back of the pack. After the road blocks came down the cheering squad and I went and stood first by the road, then on the sidewalk to cheer runners from close up and hand out bottles of water that we took from the race organizers, since the hydrating stations had been taken down. One foreign runner asked where I was from - he was another New Yorker.

Jia you and congratulations to all the runners! They did a great job!

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