Between 15,000 and 20,000 people took the start of the Beijing marathon on Sunday, November 6, in Tiananmen Square. Apart from the parenthesis of the Olympic Games, it was the first sporting and popular event organized in China since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Barely dawned, thousands of Beijingers converged early Sunday, November 6 on Tiananmen Square, where the start of the Beijing Marathon was given, organized for the first time since the appearance of Covid-19 in China.
After three long years of almost permanent health restrictions, the marathon was eagerly awaited by running enthusiasts. On the starting line, the joy could be read on many faces, like that of this 52-year-old construction worker “I waited two years. I had no patience, because I wanted so much to run. It’s part of my life, like eating and sleeping. This marathon really lifts the spirits of all athletes.”
When the start is given at 7:30 a.m., in cloudy weather and with slightly polluted air, it is a feeling of relief that emerges from the crowd. Many runners raise their arms in victory. It must be said that in recent days, with the resumption of the epidemic, some feared to see the event canceled.
It was Xia YuYu who won the race on the women’s side. “I feel comfortable running without a mask, said the young woman. It’s the first time in two years. Finally a race to test our level of training and to bring out the best in ourselves! “
The mask was not compulsory during the race, but draconian sanitary measures had been put in place, such as the ban imposed on participants not to leave Beijing in the seven days preceding the event. Measures deemed necessary by the president of the Chinese athletics federation, Duan Shijie: “The organization of the marathon highlights how the epidemic can be managed, while maintaining social activities. say that we must both control the epidemic and make sure that everyday life is not too difficult.”
“This kind of event can help people love life and overcome the epidemic.”
Very tired on arrival at the foot of the “Bird’s Nest”, Beijing’s big stadium, with also a certain emotion, for example for this Beijinger in his fifties: “It’s so hard! But this marathon that we had been waiting for for three years gave us back our confidence. I am happy that I was able to participate, although some people may not have been able to come due to the closure of their neighborhood. I am sorry that they couldn’t run. But that’s everyone’s responsibility.”
Indeed, the last minute confinements imposed by the authorities prevented the arrival of certain participants. It is not known how many people were affected. The organizers remained very vague on the figures.