Too many people are running marathons in China who are unfit

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:30pm

The running of marathons is becoming more popular, but that is resulting in greater risks for some participants and governments and organisers of marathons have to raise people’s awareness.

Nearly 20,000 people participated in the Qingyuan marathon on March 20 in Guangdong. More than 12,000 of them had to seek medical help at first-aid stations, with 17 being hospitalised. Five were in a critical condition, with three ending up in intensive care.

There were similar medical problems when the first Qingyuan marathon was held last year.

A running craze has swept through the country. According to statistics, there were more than 134,000 marathons and related events in China in 2015. Compare this with 2010 when there were only 13 marathons.

However, with more races and more participants who are unprepared, there has been an increase in the number of injuries and fatalities.

In this year’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, a record number of people (74,000) had registered to take part. Of that total, 1,137 sustained injuries. In 2015, a 24-year-old man died close to the finish line of the 10km race.

People often underestimate the risks involved in running a marathon. It is essential that they are informed and well prepared and that they fully appreciate the challenges they will face in this long race.

Seminars and training courses should be provided before the race so people are aware of what is involved. Individuals must be given a full medical exam before being allowed to sign up for a race. Only those who are given a clean bill of health should be allowed to join the race.

They must do their own research and ask themselves if they have a sufficient level of fitness for such a demanding race.

Once they have signed up, they need to have a training regime so they are well prepared. During the marathon, they should be checking for any signs that they are in trouble and stop if they are becoming unwell.

Local authorities in cities throughout the country need to check that the organisers are competent and can organise a marathon, with all the support staff, including medical personnel, on hand to help the runners.

More must be done to prevent future tragedies.

Liu Yinan, Hung Hom