‘No more public peeing!’ Beijing Marathon organisers warn runners ahead of October event

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 5:44pm

The Beijing Marathon’s organisers have announced harsh penalties for runners who urinate on the track this year, after scores of participants relieved themselves on the walls of the Forbidden City last year.

In a note to prospective applications for the October marathon, the Beijing Marathon Committee on Tuesday made it clear that “uncivilised behaviour” would not be tolerated.

“Any contestant, if found along the track conducting uncivilised behaviours, such as relieving in public and littering, will be disqualified from the race,” the committee said on its website.

Offenders will not only be disqualified but will also “be reported to the Chinese Athletic Association for additional punishment”, it added.

Such blunt warnings, unseen in previous years’ editions, came after numerous local and foreign competitors last year were photographed urinating beneath the distinctive red exterior walls of the Forbidden City, a world heritage site in centre Beijing, just beside the track.

The photos quickly spread on the internet. Many netizens condemned those acts as embarrassing and untoward for an international event.

But many runners put the blame on organisers, saying there was a short supply of mobile toilets.

Last year, some 35,000 marathon runners had to share three hundred mobile toilets placed at the starting line and several more positioned every 500 metres along the 42-kilometre track.

Responding to the criticisms, a director of the marathon committee told the Beijing Youth Daily at the time that public urination was inevitable during marathons, noting it was a problem for such events throughout the world.

The mainland media in the past reported that peeing on the “red walls” had become a feature of marathons in the Chinese capital. Even the committee admitted last year that “the phenomenon has always existed”. Some runners even said the behaviour was so rampant that “it has become a tradition”.

This year, however, the organisers have vowed to place more mobile toilets throughout the track and assign more staff to monitor the proceedings, a spokeswoman of the committee told South China Morning Post in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

But she said the exact number of the facilities to be added would only be decided after it confirmed how many people would participate.