Oct 22, 2009

Event report: Beijing International Marathon 2009

This past Sunday was the annual Beijing marathon. It was very much the same as in the past. The route started on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square, and roughly followed a clockwise loop around the city, ending in the Olympic stadium. Runners could choose from the full marathon, half marathon, 9 km, or 4.2 km. The morning pollution was so-so. I'd say that running 9 km was the equivalent of smoking two Lucky Strikes.

Here are my firsthand observations from this year's race:
  • There's still some pretty major discrimination going on with this marathon. Chinese citizens, as well as Taiwanese and Hong Kong folks, pay only $13 to register. Citizens of other countries pay $60. The standard work-around is to get a Chinese friend to register using their ID number. It's still really stupid though that they still pull this kind of stuff.
  • You may know that mainland Chinese are taught to despise the Japanese. Test this theory out if you don't believe me. Despite the hatred of the Japanese, the Beijing government has no problems letting a Japanese corporation act as the major sponsor of each year's marathon. In past years, the sponsor has been ANA. This year it was Ito-Yokado. Come on, China, this is making you guys lose face, big time. You've got tons of companies doing very well for themselves. Kick the Japanese sponsors out. Japan is so 1980's, anyway. Sponsor this thing yourselves next time.
  • This year's race was a major pee-fest.
    • In my post from the 2008 marathon, I showed a Belgian with a bladder infection, peeing where he shouldn't be. This year, there were more guys peeing in bushes and on walls than you could count. I suppose it indicates a lack of porta-potties.
    • In Tiananmen Square, there were around thirty guys lined up in a row, standing on the lip of a planter with some bushes, peeing together into the foliage. As soon as the group was done peeing, thirty more guys would take their place. The bushes, the concrete planter they were in, and ground— all soaking wet with disgusting urine. It was gross. The cops should have gotten off their butts to hand out some citations for public urination.
    • It was amusing to see that a dozen or so Chinese dudes were peeing on the outer walls of Zhongnanhai, where the Chinese president lives and where the government is headquartered. Can you imagine someone peeing on the White House fence?


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