The Chinese Athletics Association has cancelled this weekend’s marathon qualification race in Lanzhou in the wake of the Gansu ultramarathon tragedy that claimed the lives of 21 runners last month. The race, in Gansu province, was meant to be a qualification race for September’s National Games and although no official reason was given for the cancellation, it comes a week after China decided to ban ultra-marathons, trail running, and wingsuit flying following the Gansu tragedy on May 22. Organisers of the race said new selection details would be announced later. The weekend’s race was supposed to have included long distance runners from all over the country competing for places in the National Games, the country’s biggest domestic multi-sports games to be held in Shaanxi province. Chinese government bans ultramarathons in wake of tragedy In one of China’s worst sporting tragedies, 21 ultramarathon runners lost their lives during severe cold weather while competing in the Yellow River Stone Forest 100-km trial run in Baiyin, about 100 kilometres north of Lanzhou. A rescue team of 1,200 people was deployed, together with thermal-imaging drones. Of the 172 participants, 21 were found dead (18 men and three women) including one of the country’s leading ultramarathon runners, Liang Jing, who was also a three-time champion of the event . Ten days later on June 2, the General Administration of Sport of China suspended all high-risk sporting events. Although marathon racing is not on the banned list, provincial officials still called off Sunday’s competition as a precaution since the two race locations are not too far apart. Chinese ultramarathon deaths prompt new focus on runners’ safety Hong Kong will take part in the marathon at the National Games but no selection is required. “We have been given another pathway to enter the National Games and there’s no need to take part in the trial,” said Simon Yeung Sai-mo, senior vice-chairman of Hong Kong Association of Athletics Affiliates. “Marathon races have grown rapidly in China in recent years but some of them are not strictly supervised. The sports ministry will definitely take measures to cope with it.” Christy Yiu Kit-ching, who failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after having run in only two races for two Hong Kong marathon records in two years due to the pandemic, has been nominated for the National Games, along with Crystal Vut Tsz-ying, who represented Hong Kong at the 2018 Asian Games.