Participants in a 100-kilometer race in northwestern China were surprised by the drastic change of weather with rain, hail and hail. For some, any help came too late.
In a severe storm with a drop in temperature, 21 participants in a mountain marathon in northwest China were killed. On Sunday, state media reported that eight Ultramarathon runners in a tourist attraction in the Stone Forest on the Yellow River in Baien have been taken to hospitals. On Saturday, the marathon drove more than 100 kilometers over the mountains through the rugged terrain of Jingtai County (Gansu Province). However, 172 extremist athletes experienced a drastic change in weather with freezing rain, hail and storms about 20 to 30 kilometers from the start.
Temperatures have dropped dramatically in a very short time. Simply put, the storm detonated warm blankets made from emergency gear that the contestants were, some of whom were only wearing shorts and T-shirts, according to state media. Many runners got lost in the sometimes steep terrain, the low heat and exhaustion collapsed. Participants strongly called for help on cell phones. Someone wrote in a text message: “Come to the mountains to save the people.” “Too much cold and waste.”
Another wrote, “We are in a valley.” “A runner is hypothermic and unable to move.” As it was stated: “Some are unconscious.” As the calls for help said: “It’s tragic” and “Come as soon as possible!” Or “the wind is very strong.” Local authorities canceled the marathon and organized a rescue operation with 1,200 helpers, which lasted until Sunday, according to state media.
The search was very difficult in the rugged terrain of up to 2000 meters. Only the first 24 kilometers of the jogging track were permitted to drive. Temperatures continued to drop overnight. And state media said that drones equipped with temperature sensors were used to track the missing. The runners returning from the mountains reported that near the second checkpoint, freezing rain fell suddenly and gusty winds blew. Some cried and shuddered and reported seeing the weary runners lying on the ground.
Regulators criticize and lack of preparation
The temperatures had fallen to nearly zero, although the race began in sunny weather that morning, according to a participant in the newspaper, “The Paper”. The weather report did not predict a sharp drop in temperatures. Few have packaged cold-weather clothing to reduce weight. Although the organizers forced the contestants to take small heating blankets with them in case of an emergency, there weren’t enough.
Among the dead were former races winner Liang Jing and hearing-impaired runner Huang Gwangjun, who won the marathon at the National Paralympic Games in China in 2019. He criticized the organizers and the lack of preparation online. The question was raised whether it was a natural disaster or a man-made disaster.
The seasoned contestants indicated that when running the tournaments in similar conditions, the organizers asked the participants to bring warm, waterproof jackets and pants, as well as thermal underwear, gloves and hats. The jackets were said to be only “recommended” for racing in Gansu. Only foldable emergency blankets were mandatory.
The provincial government has set up a special commission to investigate the accidents. “As the organizers of the event, we feel very guilty and blame ourselves,” Baiyin Mayor Zhang Shuxin said at a press conference. We express our sincere condolences to the victims and their families. ” The search was completed on Sunday morning. All missing have been found. 151 participants safely.
The 100-kilometer mountain marathon in the scenic resort area is held annually for four years with shorter cross-country runs of up to 21 kilometers. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong reported that nearly 10,000 participants had registered for the three races.