Jinji Lake Half Marathon's "Golden" Ambition
A young half marathon participant enjoys running with the crowd.
With Jinji Lake Half Marathon assessed as a "silver-level" marathon the by Chinese Athletics Association last year, the organizers of Jinji Lake Half Marathon confirmed their next target is to make the race a "golden-level" one. However, there is still a long way to go for the 8-year-old event.
Last year the Chinese Athletics Association listed 15 golden-level marathons held in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Xiamen. Yangzhou's Jianzhen International Half Marathon is the only one listed as golden-level in Jiangsu province, and it has maintained this title for four years.
"A golden-level marathon, in the first instance, is well organized and follows all regulations. Then, it should provide good service and have its own character," said Zhou Wenjing, deputy director of Suzhou Sports Competition Management Center. Jinji Lake Half Marathon has met all regulations and technical standards on the route, guides, support runners, and medical services. The next thing to do is to promote it, letting more people know about the race, and building a good reputation amongst marathon enthusiasts. Last but not least, it should at least break even, if not be profitable. Zhou said marathons in China have mushroomed in recent years, making Jinji Lake Half Marathon's road towards "golden-level" long and winding. In 2016, there were 328 marathons and half marathons registered at the Chinese Athletics Association, and this year, the number is estimated over 500.
Detail is devil
Cai Sihui, is an experienced marathon runner who has challenged himself with marathons in Beijing, Shanghai, Yangzhou, Tokyo and Berlin. He thinks Suzhou's Jinji Lake Half Marathon has the potential to be a "golden-level" race. Focusing on details and raising runners' experiences, as Cai said, will be helpful to realize that goal.
"For example, when the pack run on Xiandai Avenue, many people run on the sidewalks, making the run a mess. Also, a group registration choice could be added to the registration web page for local runners.”
Zheng Hong, another experienced marathon runner with nearly 20 marathon participation medals, said organizers of Jinji Lake Half Marathon should learn from other marathons. To avoid the part of the route near the starting point be overcrowded, Jinji Lake Half Marathon could let participants leave the starting point in different groups according to their registered speed. Meanwhile, more portable toilets could be allocated along the route.
Liu Zhifang, a runner from Wuhan said the gift of Jinji Lake Half Marathon could have more "Suzhou style", making the race more charming.
Better service for participants is a priority that Jinji Lake Half Marathon organizers should provide. It will be a core competitive point helping Jinji Lake Half Marathon win its golden title.
This year, a mobile supply service was provided after the first 15km. 12 fully loaded bikes cruising along the route, offering drinks and snacks for runners.
At the finishing point, a stretching area and a foot-bath tent were set up, and professional masseurs were stationed there to help people relax after the half marathon. The service was widely praised by runners. Zheng Hong said he went to the stretching area for a guided relaxation immediately after he finished the race, as he felt a little uncomfortable then. "This part (stretching) is very important for runners. It is a scientific way to enjoy marathon." In his view, whether the service is thoughtful, convenient, and professional is the critical point and determines whether he would join the race another time.