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Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Beijing Marathon Held Despite Concerns of Heavy Air Pollution, Several Runners Hospitalized

Beijing Marathon

(Photo : Reuters/Stringer) Runners wearing protective face masks take part in the annual Beijing Marathon.

More than 30,000 runners participated in this year's Beijing Marathon on Sunday, despite heavy air pollution in the city. During the event, several runners and a race official were hospitalized for various medical reasons ranging from dehydration to heart attack.

Xinhua reported that the starting point of the 35th annual Beijing marathon was in Tiananmen Square. Runners had to cover a distance of more than 42 kilometers. Marathon organizers have since decided to take out the half-marathon from the event.

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Head Beijing marathon organizer Sun Xuecai said that starting this year, only runners willing to complete the race will be admitted. Still only less than half of the total number of applicants were admitted to this year's event.

The winner of the marathon for men is Mariko Kipchumba from Kenya, who won the race at 2 hours and 11 minutes. For the women, Ethiopian Betelhem Cherenet finished at 2 hours and 27 minutes.

A spokesperson for the Beijing marathon Wang Dawei said that interest in running has been increasing among Chinese citizens.

Event organizers improved the sanitary conditions in this year's race by increasing the number of toilet facilities along the way.

The marathon, however, was dampened by the heavy presence of PM2.5 in the city's atmosphere with reports of level ranging from 160 to more than 200 during that day.

Both the U.S. Environmental Protection and the World Health Organization have noted that the Beijing's air quality at that time was not conducive for the event. The marathon officials, however, decided to push through, according to Shanghiist.

One of the local runners interviewed said that although the air quality was not good, it was better than the air during last year's marathon. The second runner up for the women title, Gong Lihua said that she experienced difficulty running because of the poor air quality during the race within the city.

There were earlier reports that seven people from the marathon suffered heart attacks and were rushed to the hospital. Even organizers belied the reports and said that only one runner and a race official were treated for heart attack. The rest were treated for dehydration although a number of them were in the hospital as of press time.

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