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Beijing marathon concludes in smog

Xinhua, October 19, 2014 Adjust font size:

The Beijing International Marathon concluded Sunday in heavy smog with Ethiopian Fatuma Sado Dergo finishing first in the 42.195-kilometer run.

The 2014 Beijing marathon went on as scheduled for the 23rd straight year despite heavy smog that has hit Beijing since Saturday.

The National Meteorological Center extended a yellow alert on Sunday for severe smog and air pollution in the capital. PM 2.5 reading reached 331, pushing pollution well past healthy levels.

Some of the runners wore masks, but their enthusiasm for the marathon prevailed despite the smoggy weather.

It is not the first time that a marathon was disturbed by poor air. Earlier this year, the Shanghai International Marathon was held one month in advance to avoid acrid smog and biting cold.

But according to organizers of the Beijing event, the race was not called off or delayed because "46 percent of runners come from overseas or outside Beijing and there are numerous parties involved in the organizing of the competition, therefore it is difficult to reschedule the event."

However, authorities warned runners with respiratory diseases not to participate in the race. Ambulances and medical staff were prepared at the finishing point, with enhanced water sprays and some 140,000 pieces of cleansing cotton tissues for the competitors during the course.

"I wore a mask all the way, it's the first time I've ever experienced a marathon run with a lack of oxygen," a runner said after the competition, adding that the mask had turned black after the run.

On Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, netizens cracked jokes about the smog-shrouded event. "If an entrant finished the course in three hours, he or she would have inhaled 4.46 mg of particulate. With 2.23 mg remaining in the lungs, it would be equal to smoking more than 300 cigarettes," read one comment.

The full-race marathon was open to 26,000 entrants and the half marathon was open to 4,000.

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