Shanghai International Marathon half marathon canceled

It is all to do with meeting the increasing demand for full distance marathons. 
Dong Jun / SHINE

Runners in this file photo of the 2016 Shanghai International Marathon set off from the Bund.

Shanghai is following in Beijing’s footsteps by canceling the 21-kilometer international half marathon event.

Organizers announced yesterday that this year’s half marathon, which was due to take place on November 12, isn’t going to be held.

They said the 8,000 places for the race have instead been allotted to the 42.2km full marathon, which will now have 28,000 places — 8,000 more than last year. The 10km and 5km races will continue to feature 5,000 runners each.

“The decision was made to meet the demand of our runners after a series of analyses,” said Zhou Jin, general manager of Shanghai Donghao Lansheng Event Management Company.

“Currently, Shanghai hosts over 10 running events which set the half marathon. Therefore, Shanghai’s half-marathon runners’ still have a wide choice. To give more quotas to the full marathon during Shanghai International Marathon is also a kind of upgrade for the event,” she said.

A total of 126,789 runners applied for the 2015 races. Among them, 48,399 (38.17 percent) applied for the full marathon and 45,073 (35.55 percent) for the half marathon. In 2016, there were 153,163 applications; 64,067 (41.83 percent) for the full marathon and 54,338 (35.48 percent) for the half marathon.

“The increase was obvious. Also, our statistics showed that over 95 percent of the full marathon runners were able to complete their race. Therefore we think it is time for some adjustment,” Zhou added.

The 10km and 5km events have been kept to ensure the involvement of runners who are not able to complete the full distance but are eager to participate in the annual event.

The organizer also adjusted this year’s running route to provide better views for observers and an improved running experience.

At the 17th kilometer spot, runners will enter the riverside area in Huangpu District instead of making a U-turn along Miaojiang Road.

The route at the 30th kilometer spot will also be changed to allow runners to avoid Longteng Bridge, which a number of participants had found too much of a stamina challenge.


Priority registration

To avoid construction work along Fenggu Road in Xuhui District, the new route will take runners along Longlan Road instead.

The priority and elite registration started from yesterday, featuring runners who have achieved good results in previous running events organized by the company.

Those qualified include the first 400 male and 200 female finishers of this year’s Shanghai International Half Marathon that was held in April. These runners get the quotas without having to go through the draw after application.

Registration for the public is open from September 1 to 4. Those interested can log on to or use the event’s smartphone app to hand in applications.

A draw will be held to distribute the quotas and the result will be announced on September 11. Those allotted quotas must complete payment before September 13.

The entrance fee for the full marathon is 100 yuan (US$15) for Chinese and 300 yuan for foreigners. For the 10km and 5km races, it is 60 yuan for Chinese and 200 yuan for foreign participants.

Five hundred charity quotas have been set aside and the entrance fee for a charity quota is 3,000 yuan, with the proceeds going into the organizer’s charity foundation to help children in poverty-stricken areas.

Because of the increased number of full distance runners, more food supply stations will be set up in the later stages of the route, said the organizer. There will also be massage spots to help those encountering muscle stiffness or have pulled a tendon.

Shanghai International Marathon’s cancellation of the half marathon event was also backed by the Sport Administration’s track and field management center.

“Shanghai has always been a city catching the latest trend,” said Shui Tao, director of the management center’s marathon office. According to Shui, there were 328 marathon events around the country registered with the Chinese Athletic Association in 2016.

‘Understandable decision’

“We need different services from different events. To me it is a scientific choice that Shanghai International Marathon is giving more concentration to the full distance race, while keeping the 10km and 5km races to keep a public involvement,” said Shui.

Currently there are at least 10 half marathon events being held in Shanghai within a year, meeting the demand of 40,000 runners. The 2017 Shanghai International Half Marathon was held in April, which featured 15,000 runners. Other major half marathon events include Changning International Half Marathon and Fengxian Half Marathon.

“The cancellation of the half marathon won’t have that big an impact,” amateur runner Hu Wenfei told Shanghai Daily. Hu took part in the half marathon event at Shanghai International Marathon two years ago.

“It’s an understandable decision, and the 8,000 quotas (for half marathon) used to be hard to get anyway. Therefore I don’t mind turning to other half marathon events held in the city, or maybe try my luck and apply for the 10km race,” said Hu.

There had been discussions that to allow the Shanghai event to join the World Marathon Majors in the future might be one factor that led to the half marathon’s demise, as WMM only concentrates on full marathons.

Sun Weimin, deputy director of Shanghai Sports Bureau, said the Shanghai event is not currently considering becoming a member of WMM, whose six races include the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon.

“World Marathon Majors is a good series, but good things don’t necessarily suit us,” said Sun.

“We have built a connection with WMM, and we are very willing to learn from the international marathon events regarding experience.

“But after assessments, we don’t think it’s necessary for the Shanghai event to become a member of WMM ... But we might give it a thought in the future,” Sun added.

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