Cherry blossom running fuses vitality and sport ahead of Asian Games
Every spring, the cherry blossoms along the Wentao Road waterfront esplanade are a favorite with visitors and considered a highlight of the annual running competitions by virtue of the majestic river view.
The Romantic Cherry Blossom Running hosted by Binjiang District kicked off over the weekend, drawing 2,600 citizens from around Hangzhou. In a bid to echo the theme of "romance," the race length was held at 13.14 kilometers. The number sounds similar to "love for a whole life" in Chinese.
In addition to the race, organizers established cultural and creative fairs along the road, which enriched the competition and attracted swarms of passers-by. Intangible cultural heritage handicraft, flower arrangements, dragon dance and shadow plays were performed on the site.
With the Hangzhou Asian Games approaching, organizers also set up a fair themed on the sporting extravaganza. Licensed Asian Games merchandise was available for sale, with mascots Cong Cong, Lian Lian and Chen Chen making an appearance.
Dubbed "the most beautiful jogging path in Hangzhou," Wentao Road stretches for more than 17km along the Qiantang River. It is popular with residents who stroll and jog along it every day and has become a calling card of the district during springtime.
Binjiang's competitions already began in February.
Binjiang Citizen Games, hosted every four years, kicked off on February 19. The event hopes to enhance public awareness of the importance of doing physical exercise in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and to improve people's sense of happiness.
On March 4, the Zhejiang Marathon Relay Race attracted about 315 teams with 1,890 runners from all over the country by virtue of Binjiang's unique river scenery and welcoming climate.
For years, Binjiang has been working to become a district of flowers through green thoroughfares, rivers and residential communities. Now, this cityscape has been added gyms, luring people to work out in a pleasant environment.
In 2022, the local government built and upgraded about 200 gyms covering more than 120,000 square meters, and completed 26 so-called "embedded sports grounds" with 240,000 square meters for residents.
The district initiated the concept of "embedded sports grounds" last year, which aims to make use of every bit of space to build a sports circle accessible to every resident.
Rooftops, underground space, waterfront parks and other possible nooks are being turned into gyms and alfresco fitness facilities, as the local government embarks on a three-year project to realize the goal.
Now, Wentao Road boasts 13 skateboard, football, basketball and tennis grounds. The road is designated as a demonstration site of the integration of a favorable environment and public sports grounds in Hangzhou.
Its waterfront park includes a jogging runway, a basketball court, skateboarding areas and sand pit for kids. Citizens living or working around need only walk for several minutes to get access to the fitness facilities for free.
Last July, the Hangzhou Asian Games' organizing committee announced that the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, commonly known as the "Big Lotus" in Binjiang District, is open to locals.
According to the local government's scheme, over 250,000 square meters of grounds and 45,600 square meters of "embedded sports grounds" will be constructed by 2024 with the goal of improving the quality of sports services.