The world's most populous country found its love for sport late in life.
For decades, running was not a very important sport at the grassroots level in China. This was different, however, in elite sport, where China's runners were among the world's elite towards the end of the last century, especially in the women's category.
Wang Junxia, for example, held the world record for the 10,000 metres from 1993 to 2016 with 29:31.78 minutes, albeit under highly dubious circumstances. Many of the female long-distance runners were associated with doping years later. However, it was to take several more years before popular sport became established in China. It was not until 2010 that there was a drastic increase in running events. The marathon in particular is booming in China. There are now several city marathons with more than 10,000 participants.
The biggest running events in China
A classic in China is the Beijing Marathon, which has been held officially since 1981 under the name Beijing International Marathon. Several thousand runners compete in the marathon. Top times are regularly run here. In the list of the fastest marathon events worldwide, the marathon, which takes place in September, has ranked among the top 20. The Xiamen Marathon has also made it into the top 20. Although it has a much shorter tradition than the Beijing Marathon, it has a similarly large starting field as the Beijing Marathon. The Xiamen Marathon is always held on the first Saturday of the year. The first fast world best time is usually run here. Winning times under 2:10 hours are at least not uncommon in this metropolis of millions.
Towards the end of the year, 30,000 runners register for the Shanghai Marathon. Another big event is the Hong Kong Marathon in February. Including fringe events, the event has 70,000 registered runners, making the Hong Kong Marathon one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.
The globally organised Rock 'n' Roll running series also makes regular stops in China with several half marathons, for example in Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou.
A unique experience
Apart from the many city marathons in the metropolises with millions of inhabitants, China also offers some spectacular adventure runs. The Great Wall Marathon, organised annually in May by Albatros Adventure, is clearly one of them. At this sporting event, you can complete a marathon on the Great Wall of China.
Another spectacular adventure race is the Gobi March. In this stage race, you cover around 250 kilometres of running across China in 6 days.
Triathlons in China
Triathlon has also long since arrived in China, as the middle-distance races of the IRONMAN 70.3 series prove. In spring, an IRONMAN 70.3 will be held in Liuzhou, in late autumn in Shanghai and Xiamen.
All Running Races in China(sorted by date) can be found in the following overview: