What was described as one of the most fatal incidents to happen in the history of Chinese sporting events, happened during the 2021 100km mountain ultra-marathon. As reported worldwide on Sunday, May 23, at least 21 competitors have been killed after being caught in freezing weather.
Long-distance running has gained popularity in China in recent years with the country’s growing middle class taking up the sport. According to Times Live, the 100km race began at the end of the Yellow River, the second-longest in China. Participants were required to run through deep canyons and undulating hills on an arid plateau at an elevation of more than 1,000 metres.
On Saturday, May 23, a section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales that caused temperatures to plummet to the lowest degree.
Dressed only in their running attire, athletes had minimum protection against the harsh conditions and by the time the event was cancelled, several people had already suffered from hypothermia while others collapsed due to the cold, South China Post reported.
Video footage broadcasted in the media shows emergency rescue personnel climbing through the rocky terrain, bringing 151 out of a total of 172 participants to safety.
Among the dead were elite Chinese long-distance runners, Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun. Liang had won multiple Chinese ultramarathons in recent years, IOL reports.
wtf… lost for words… Liang Jing, one of the most lovable characters in the field… RIP https://t.co/FLh8xkKmFW
— Hiromasa Kato (@butakun74) May 23, 2021
Meanwhile, the blame game has already started with the Chinese public directing their anger at the Baiyin government over the lack of contingency planning.