China’s top sports governing body vowed to improve safety in ultramarathons and other long races following the gruesome death of 21 runners in a race in Northwest China’s Gansu Province.
The victims were among more than 170 runners who began the 100 kilometer race – 62 miles, or almost 2 1/2 marathons – in warm temperatures Saturday. But the weather turned severe: Hail and winds were so strong it was difficult to stand much less run, and fast-dropping temperatures created chaos for the runners.
Rescuers and local officials blamed the deaths on the sudden, extreme weather and lack of emergency preparation. The Chinese government, through state broadcaster CCTV, called the tragedy “a wake-up call for marathon events that have bloomed almost everywhere in China in recent years.”
Route planning, safety guarantees, medical preparations, emergency rescue and food supplies need to be precise and foolproof, CCTV said. Runners were warned to “respect nature, respect science, cherish life.”