The Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) hosted and co-hosted 51 marathon and road running races, attracting more than 900,000 participants last year, CAA vice president Du Zhaocai revealed here on Saturday.
"Marathon and road running races have been more and more popular in China in recently years. In 2014 the CAA have hosted and co-hosted 51 events with the number of participants hit a record-high 900,000," said Du while delivering a speech at the China Marathon Conference held here.
"The 51 events included 26 marathons, 11 half marathons and 14 5km or 10km road running races, 12 more than the number in 2013," Du added.
According to Du, only a total of 80 professional runners competed in the inaugural Beijing Marathon back in 1981, which was the first international marathon ever held by the CAA.
"The comparison reflects the fast development of the sport in China and also reflects the notion of promoting fitness is gaining more attention among Chinese," Du said.
"With the number of races and participants increasing, the level of the races also has risen. The Beijing Marathon, Xiamen Marathon, Shanghai Marathon and Yangzhou Half Marathon are all IAAF gold label races. The Lanzhou Marathon is an IAAF Bronze Label race and in 2014 the Dongying International Marathon was also recognized as a silver label race by the IAAF," said Du.
Original title by Xinhua: Road running attracts over 900,000 runners last year in China