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UPDATED: November 4, 2013 NO. 45 NOVEMBER 7, 2013
What Do Marathons Mean to a City?

FUN RUN: The 2013 Beijing International Marathon is held on October 20, attracting around 30,000 participants from China and abroad (XINHUA)

The 2013 Beijing International Marathon was just concluded in October. First organized in 1981, the event is an annual race of 42.195 km held each October. It starts at Tiananmen Square and finishes at the National Olympic Sports Center. In addition to the main event, a mini-marathon and a half marathon also take place. It attracted more than 30,000 participants from over 60 countries.

Entering the new century, marathons have begun spreading throughout around China, from fewer than 10 at the end of the 1990s, to around 34 this year. Despite occasional accidents, cities are still passionate about such competitions. On one hand, it could provide the host city many benefits, including a rising reputation and income, while on the other, various disputes have risen regarding this type of events. The following are excerpts of opinions:

Zhang Luping (www.rednet.cn): In this year's Beijing Marathon, some people were seen urinating along the road. We all know that marathons are time-consuming sports, so it's normal to see this kind of occurrence. I have also been to other countries and have noticed similar incidents.

As for the Beijing race, except for a small number of people who did it deliberately, most could not help themselves. I think it happened due to the lack of lavatories. As far as I could see, only two makeshift toilets serviced the route, causing tremendous queues. This is a problem across the globe.

Littering is not just a Beijing problem alone. Though the marathon incident is rather peculiar, the event itself enjoys much support among local residents and sports fans, who are becoming increasingly involved in the competition.

Duan Shijie (Chengdu Business News): Marathons play a big role in making full use of social resources, providing host cities and residents with huge returns.

Long Guangyan (Chengdu Business News): The popularity of marathons could first be attributed to the state's nationwide fitness program. On one hand, the government hopes to encourage more people to get involved in sports, while on the other, investment in these activities should be as limited as possible. Naturally, marathons are undoubtedly the best means to promote nation-wide health.

Local government passion for hosting marathons is a big driving force behind the development of such events in China. It also promotes the reputation, popularity and soft power of host cities around the world. Besides, it improves a city's vitality and encourages residents to take part and be healthy.

Marathons help promote a city's international influence, economic development as well as the exchange and spread of culture.

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