Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shanghai (half) Marathon

I'm not a runner. I enjoy working out but running is something that simply does not come naturally to me. Which is why I was shocked when I found myself finishing the Shanghai Half Marathon.

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Let me back up a little. A few months ago, Matthew mentioned he was interested in running a half marathon. Being a supportive wife, I figured I would run with him for a few weeks until his mileage was too much for me. When he headed off on a 10K training run, I told him to wait for me as I would probably end up walking the last few kilometers. But then something funny happened. I felt great after 6 km and better still at 8. I ran the full 10km and promptly signed up for the half marathon with Matthew the following week. Apparently the only person who thought I couldn't do it was me.

The half marathon itself was a lot of fun. We started our race around 7am on the iconic Bund, watching the sun rise as we braved the cold. The course then wove its way past some of Shanghai's premier tourist locations like Nanjing Pedestrian street, Jing'an Temple and the busy shopping mecca of Huaihai Lu. It was a beautiful way to see my city from a different perspective.

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There were over 35,000 runners participating which meant it took us over 15 minutes to even reach the starting line after the race started. While there were obviously a lot of people, the running lanes were wide enough throughout that I didn't find myself shoving people to get through as I have in other races I've done in China.

Costumes are a big part of the event. I saw numerous outfits including Captain America, a woman in a full pleather Catwoman suit, Sumo wrestlers, and men in animals onesies. My friend Lesley captured this photo of a group dressed as Imperial soldiers.


The spectators along the route also kept me entertained throughout the entire 21km. Numerous drumming groups were scattered throughout the course and cheers of jiā yóu could be heard the entire time. Literally translated, the phrase means "add gasoline" but has become the cheer used to encourage athletes to "go for it" or "keep it up". In front of the Nike store and the BMW showroom, both sponsors of the race, a full out party was raging with cheerleaders and a DJ.

We even had a few friends come out to cheer us on as we finished at the Shanghai Stadium.



Overall, it was a great race and one I would highly recommend to others. While the air quality wasn't great, we were lucky to finish before the levels rose to more unhealthy levels. Now that I've run my first half marathon, perhaps the Great Wall half marathon is next on my list. 


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