A runner waves during the Shenzhen Marathon 2022 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Sunday. (Photo by Xuan Hui/For China Daily)
The much-anticipated Shenzhen Marathon featured 20,000 runners on Sunday morning as the annual event finally returned to the subtropical city in Guangdong province after being suspended for three years due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The government-sponsored Shenzhen Marathon 2022, which was postponed in December, attracted roughly 100 foreign runners from about 25 countries and regions to participate in the event’s full and half marathons, according to the organizer.
He Jie, a Chinese professional runner from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, picked up speed unexpectedly during the last 3 kilometers of the men’s full marathon, passing two Ethiopian athletes to finish first with a time of 2:13:29, 21 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
He became the first Chinese runner to win in the men’s category of the event, which was originally launched in December 2013.
He, a member of China’s national marathon team, said he trained in Kenya last year with foreign runners and had recently completed “effective” winter training.
“I am in good condition today,” He told the media after the race. “I am also very confident. I am not afraid to compete with foreign runners.”
For the women’s full marathon, first place was secured by Adula Askale Alemayehu of Ethiopia, who finished with a time of 2:34:19.
Attending the Shenzhen Marathon for the first time, He said he was impressed by the beautiful route, which showcased Shenzhen’s environmental beauty and its latest developments.
Besides planning the route, the event organizer used new technologies to ensure the safety of the participants.
A digital command and dispatch platform was constructed — supported by 3D modeling, internet of things sensing, artificial intelligence and big data — to capture the races in real time. It was the first time such a system had been devised for a marathon in the country, according to the organizer.
Unmanned drones with speakers were arranged at the start and finish to help maintain order and take photos of the runners.
By analyzing the images sent back by the monitors along the route, the AI system could predict the conditions of the runners so that a timely rescue could be arranged for people in need and detect any violations.
The system also recorded the players as they ran so that unique videos could be made for the participants, providing a special experience for them.
More than 3,000 people served as volunteers at the event, including 549 college students, according to the organizer.