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Running resolutely into the new year

( ) 2019-01-02

Running resolutely into the new year

A total of 10,000 people took part in this year's Run the Track event at Shanghai International Circuit, home of Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Thousands start 2019 on half-marathon high at Shanghai's Formula One circuit

It was a cold but rewarding start to 2019 for the 10,000 hardy souls who braved the chilly weather at the Run the Track half marathon in Shanghai on New Year's Day.

The annual race is staged at the Shanghai International Circuit, home of Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix, in the city's Jiading district. And with temperatures plummeting to near freezing, many must have wished they were cocooned in the warmth of an F1 car as they withstood the elements to kick off the year in determined fashion.

"It was a really tough experience this year as the cold weather this morning made the challenge a lot harder. The chilly wind at the corners even gave me cramp," said one runner, Kong Shuai.

The sense of achievement at the finish line, however, made the pain worthwhile for Kong, who became hooked on running after entering the race's first edition in 2015.

"I'm a 'five-star runner', which means I've participated in all five editions of the race, and I will keep running the F1 track to celebrate New Year's Day as long as I'm in Shanghai," he said.

"I had no long-distance running experience before I entered Run the Track. I was attracted because I'm a huge F1 fan and the 2015 race was the first time that I ever stepped on an F1 track.

"Since then, I've developed a passion for running. I just did a 5.4 km race in the first year, but I tried the half marathon this time. My new year's resolution is to do a full marathon."

This year's Run the Track featured the main half marathon challenge (21.6 km) as well as a 5.4 km race - equating to one lap of the circuit - for entry-level runners. A special Kids' Festival, for children aged five to 10, also catered to families.

This year's event sold out in two hours last month, with the 4,000 positions for the 21.6 km race snapped up in a mere 28 minutes.

Despite the huge demand for places, organizers are reluctant to increase the size of the field for fear it would make the race-day experience less enjoyable.

"It has always been a difficulty for us to allow more runners to run on the F1 track at the same time," said George Wei, general manager of Bright PR Shanghai, one of the race organizers.

"Given the fixed length of the F1 track, the number of runners who can experience the half marathon is so limited. It's very hard to open the track to more people, let alone having a full marathon race.

"We have been working on solutions to welcome more participants."

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