It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning when somewhere around 20,000 runners and I took to the streets for a form of self-punishment most will never fully understand. I even found myself wondering for a large portion of the 42 km why exactly I was subjecting myself to it. Although most of the course wasn’t spectacular (imagine about 20 km of the course under an elevated highway in Pudong), we did run along the Bund for a hot second, and there were a few other highlights. Namely, THE FUXING LU TUNNEL.
I can’t think of too many marathons around the world where you get to go underground, in a tunnel, under a major river, but Shanghai, true to form, is always shaking things up. Just a few kilometers in, we all made our way underground for about 2km of the race. There was no traffic on our side, but we could catch glimpses of the idling traffic in the other half of the tunnel, held up because their exit was blocked by the steady stream of runners entering. I didn’t really notice any exhaust fumes at all, which was a nice surprise, and the emergency turn-offs were getting some use in the form of a make shift urinal trough that was apparently, sorely needed. There was a steady stream of people using it and a steady stream of…well, yeah.
There was a bit more crowd participation than I expected, mostly because I think the government must have contracted the groups of ladies you usually see dressed up in the morning doing Tai Chi in the colored robes to line the course and cheer and shout “Jia You!” (“add oil” the Chinese equivalent of “Let’s go!” or something?).
I was pretty sure China would be able to organize a good event, as I mentioned in a recent interview with Talk Magazine. They did the Olympics, the Expo with over 70 million visitors, so honestly, a marathon with 20,000 runners is basically no big deal by now.
More marathon stories to come! Share your stories in the comments, or feel free to ask any random questions about running in Shanghai. Thankfully, we have some better places to run than under an elevated highway for 25 km. If you’re interested in seeing all of the good stuff in Shanghai in one go, check out UnTour Shanghai‘s food tours!