Guide, Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Signing up and Running the 2011 Shanghai Marathon

The 2011 Toray Shanghai International Marathon is rapidly approaching, taking place this year on December 4th. Based on previous years, runners can expect a large, mixed crowd of expat and international visitors, coupled with a relatively smooth registration and race day experience.

The route appears to be quite similar to last year’s, with the exception that running through the Fuxing Lu Tunnel will be avoided, and it appears runners will instead use the Nanpu Bridge instead. The race begins near the Nanjing Dong Lu subway stop, and continues south along the Bund.  The remainder of the race is a flat, fairly boring urban stretch of Pudong.

This is China however, so there are a few things that may seem odd at first about the whole process, but are really just small hurdles in the grand scheme of things. Last year there were several last minute changes to the route posted online, making it rather challenging to coordinate with race-day spectators, Here’s what you need to know:

1)    The registration form can be found at the following website:

2)    You can conveniently pay online through Paypal or Alipay for US$47. Be warned, you still have to send a separate online payment directly through Paypal’s actual website to the email provided during the registration process, or you will not technically be signed up.

3)    You can download and bring the official entry form when you go for packet pick-up:

Be warned, there is a section for a physical examination, which is meant to be filled out by a hospital and signed by a doctor. Of course, this is recommended, but if you’re in a jam, just use a different colored pen and fill the whole thing in.

4)    When information about packet pick-up is released, go on the first day if you want to get your choice of t-shirt sizes. Usually only XL and XXL are available if you go on the 2nd day. Bring extra RMB for your deposit on the timing chip that will attach to your running shoes.

5)    If it’s like last year, you will get a bag of goodies when you pick up your race number. You can use the bag (fill out the square paper with your personal info, and put it in the little plastic envelope-type window) and then you can deposit it with your personal belongings at the start of the race. It will then be ready for pickup when you’re done. I put a few snacks, my sweatshirt and most importantly, flip flops for maximum post-run comfort.

6)    If you’re the type of runner that is used to having lots of crowd inspiration to cheer you on, then start to think of a new strategy. There are fairly long stretches (especially in Pudong), where spectators are few and far between, and those that are watching are staring in a sort of blank bewilderment. I don’t usually run with an iPod, but this year I’m reconsidering.

7)    According to the race map, the finish line will be in the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. This is relatively close to a subway stop, and there is a free shuttle service. If you’re not ready to be crammed into a sweaty, stinky bus, take a tuk-tuk for no more than RMB 10 for a quick ride.

8)    Each water station also includes a giant sponging table to pick up wet sponges and cool off on the go. Be careful in this section as it becomes quite littered with used sponges and slippery.

9)    At the end of the race, turn in your chip immediately and you’ll get an immediate printout of your results. It’s amazingly fast and efficient and there are the traditional goody bags with food and drinks.

10) Enjoy yourself! Last year saw warm, blue skies with runners in shorts and t-shirts.

Kyle Long is the Chief Running Officer of UnTour Shanghai, an urban adventure tourism company specializing in guided sightseeing runs, culinary food tours, and cultural excursions.

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