What are the most popular Chinese marathons?
Photo by Cui Meng/GT
Marathons in China have hit a period of prosperity in recent years, with around 51 Chinese marathons now on the calendar, and more to come now that the Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) has declared that new marathons no longer require their accreditation. So among so many running opportunities, which ones are really worth sweating for? Here are the biggest big runs around.
Xiamen International Marathon
Xiamen International Marathon started in 2003 and has been an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Gold Label event since 2008. It enjoys a high level of competition, good public participation, and additional supporting activities. And with a route that takes competitors along the coastline and through large public squares, the Xiamen marathon is as attractive as it is strenuous.
Event date: The marathon is held on the first Saturday of each year; the 10km and 5km run happen around 20-30 days earlier.
Runs available: Full marathon (42km), half-marathon (21km), 10km, 5km.
How to sign up: You can sign up online, at Xiamen Stadium during the sign-up period (see below) or through a travel agency. Group sign-up is available at the stadium.
Sign-up period: The sign-up time for the 2015 event was between Nov 15 and Dec 5, 2014. Future events will have a similar sign-up period; keep an eye on the official website for updates.
Maximum number of participants: 25,000 for full marathon, 20,000 for half-marathon, 10,000 for 10km and 5km.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizens of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan): 80 yuan per person for the full marathon; 50 yuan for the half-marathon; 65 yuan for the 10km run; 50 yuan for the 5km run. The full marathon and 10km run are free for athletes registered with the CAA.
Foreigners: $30 per person for the full marathon; $20 for the half-marathon; $25 for the 10km; $20 for the 5km.
Contact info: See here.
Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half-Marathon
Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half-marathon is a Gold Label road race recognized by the IAAF, and is the only Chinese half-marathon event to win this title. It has been held successfully in the historical and picturesque city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, since 2006. The marathon route goes through some historical sites of the city, as well as green parks.
Event date: The event is usually held in April of each year (2015 event: April 19).
Runs available: Half-marathon, 10km, mini marathon (5.6km).
How to sign up: You can register and pay your entry fees online.
Sign-up period: The 2015 sign-up period was from 10 am, March 1 to 12 noon, March 25.
Maximum number of participants: 18,000 for half-marathon, 5,000 for 10km, and 12,000 for mini marathon.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizens of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan): 120 yuan per person for half-marathon; 80 yuan per person for 10km; 50 yuan per person for mini marathon.
Foreigners: 400 yuan per person for half-marathon; 350 yuan per person for 10km or mini marathon.
Contact info: Yangzhou Athletic Contest Management Center, 2 Qilidian Lu, Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. 江苏省扬州市七里甸路2号
Tel: 0514-8733-8636, email: email@example.com (English-language contact), WeChat account: yzmls-zyt
Lanzhou International Marathon
Lanzhou international marathon is a Bronze Label winner recognized by the IAAF. It has been held in Lanzhou, Gansu province, since 2011. Lanzhou, a city located in the west of China, rests at an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters above sea level. The marathon route winds along the Yellow River and through attractive Chinese scenery.
Event date: The event usually takes place in the June of each year (2015 edition: June 13).
Runs available: Full marathon, half-marathon, 10km, 5km.
How to sign up: You can sign up on the Lanzhou International Marathon website.
Sign-up period: The sign-up period for the event is usually in the April of each year.
Maximum number of participants: 5,000 for full marathon, 5,000 for half-marathon, 6,000 for 10km, and 24,000 for 5km.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizen of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan): 60 yuan per person for full marathon; 50 yuan for half-marathon; 40 yuan for 10km; 20 yuan per person for 5km.
Foreigners: $30 per person or 190 yuan per person.
The registration fee is waived for those who have completed previous Lanzhou marathons, or other Chinese marathons held within the previous year and a half, within certain time limits: under three hours for males and under four hours for females.
Contact info: Administration of Sport of Lanzhou, 195 Qingyang Lu, Chengguan district, Lanzhou, Gansu Province. 甘肃省兰州市城关区庆阳路195号
Tel: 157-1961-7688, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beijing International Marathon
Beijing International Marathon is among the highest level of Chinese runs recognized by both the CAA and IAAF, and has been held annually since 1981. These days it attracts marathon runners from all over the world, with the 2014 male and female winners both being from Ethiopia: Girmay Birhanu Gebru and Fatuma Sado Dergo, respectively. The marathon begins at Tiananmen Square and ends at the national Olympic Sports Center, taking in historical attractions and modern architecture on the way.
Event date: The event is usually held in the October of each year.
Runs available: Full marathon, half-marathon.
How to sign up: Interested parties can sign up online.
Sign-up period: The marathon traditionally opens for registration in August. Participants should sign up on the official Beijing Marathon site and wait for the approval of the committee; the payment system then opens up at the beginning of September. Successful payment grants enrollment for the contest; those who forget to pay will miss out.
Maximum number of participants: 26,000 for full marathon, 4,000 for half-marathon.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizens of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan): 200 yuan per person for full marathon; 160 yuan for half-marathon.
Foreigners: $100 per person for full marathon; $80 per person for half-marathon.
Contact info: Tel: 010-6716-7482, email: email@example.com.
Shanghai International Marathon
Shanghai International Marathon started in the 1970s as a road race for citizens to welcome in the spring, and became a formal competition in the 1980s, with athletes from other countries joining in during the mid-1980s, making it a truly international sports event. The route goes through some of the most bustling areas of the city, starting with the famous riverside Bund area; running through Nanjing Road, the main shopping street; and ending at Shanghai Stadium.
Event date: The Shanghai International Marathon is usually held in the October of each year.
Runs available: Full marathon, half-marathon, 10km, fitness running.
How to sign up: Online or through the Weixin account “Shanghaimarathon.”
Sign-up period: Sign-up for the 2015 competition is not yet open typically begins mid-September.
Maximum number of participants: 8,000 for full marathon, 10,000 for half-marathon, 7,000 for 10km, and 10,000 for fitness run (about 5km).
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizens of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan): 60 yuan per person for full marathon; 50 yuan for half-marathon, 40 yuan for 10km, 40 yuan for fitness run.
Foreigners: 200 yuan per person for full marathon; 150 yuan per person for half-marathon, 100 yuan for 10km, 100 yuan for fitness run.
Contact info: Tel: 400-196-2002 (for English), email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great Wall Marathon
The Great Wall Marathon is a tough race route, with about 5,164 steps of the Great Wall between the competitors and the finishing line. However, the extraordinary scenery alongside the Great Wall works as a great impetus to keep running.
Event date: The Great Wall Marathon usually occurs in the April of each year (2015 event: April 19).
Runs available: Full marathon, half-marathon, 5km.
Sign-up period: Sign-up for 2015 competition is open at the time of writing, and will end at 6pm, April 6, 2015.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizen of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan): 260 yuan per person for full marathon; 160 yuan for half-marathon.
Foreigners: $170 per person for the full marathon; $80 per person for the half-marathon.
The organizing committee also prepares a race package for local and international runners, including registration, transportation and after party fees. See here for more info.
Contact info: The Great Wall Marathon Head Office, Suite A-2-1-1201, Fenghua Square, 6 Guang’an mennei Dajie, Xicheng district, Beijing. 北京市西城区广安门内大街6号，枫桦广场，A-2-1-1201室
Tel: 010-6355 2521/ 6851 2395, email: email@example.com.
Kangbao Grassland Marathon
Kangbao Grassland Marathon is a new addition to China’s range of marathons, having started in 2013, but still attracts many runners. The marathon route gets well out of the way of concrete towers and inner-city stress, instead passing through Inner Mongolia’s natural grassland scenery.
Event date: The Shanghai International Marathon is usually held in the July of each year.
Runs available: Full marathon, half-marathon, mini marathon (4.5km).
How to sign up: Registration is available online.
Sign-up period: The sign-up period for the marathon is usually open from mid June.
Maximum number of participants: 1,000 each for full marathon, half-marathon and mini marathon.
Fee: Chinese nationals (including citizens of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan): 100 yuan per person for full marathon; 80 yuan for half-marathon, 50 yuan for mini marathon.
Foreigners: $20 per person for full marathon; $15 per person for half-marathon, $10 for mini marathon.
The organizers of the Kangbao Grassland Marathon also prepares a race package for runners, which includes accommodation. For more information, see here.
Contact info: Tel: 0313-5517-7650, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparation for a Chinese marathon
Runners from foreign countries may find some differences between their own country’s marathons and those of China. With that in mind, here are a few details to consider before you get your practice hours in.
- Most marathon organizers require participants of full or half-marathons to present a health check report performed within the last year proving that the individual is capable of long-distance running. People with cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes and other diseases that may make them unsuitable for sich exercise will be denied participation.
- Popular marathon contests such as the Beijing Marathon and the Shanghai Marathon attract millions of hopeful competitors every year, despite there only being tens of thousands of places in each marathon. To maximize your chances of participating, learn the registration process beforehand and apply as early as possible.
- Because of the high levels of air pollution across much of China, especially in and around major cities, many marathon-goers wear masks while running. It is strongly advised that if there is heavy air pollution on the day, you forego the money you’ve invested and quit the competition – it’s really not going to be good at all for you to exercise heavily with such hazardous air. If you absolutely do have to run, please do wear a mask, even if it is likely to affect your running performance. In fact, you may wish to incorporate masks into your training, just in case. You can check the air quality of various cities around China using the apps featured on this page.