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China Cancels 60 Races in Wake of Deadly Marathon

Paul Steinbach

At least 60 marathons and cross-country races have been canceled or postponed in China after 21 runners died when extreme weather hit an ultramarathon last weekend, state media said Thursday, as reported by Yahoo!Sports.

A 100-kilometer (60-mile) cross-country mountain race in the northwestern province of Gansu turned deadly Saturday as freezing rain, high winds and hail raked the competitors, raising questions over why organizers apparently ignored the incoming extreme weather.

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China has been in the grip of what state media calls "marathon fever," hosting 40 times more marathons in 2018 than in 2014, according to Chinese Athletic Association data, and the government is heavily pushing exercise for all age groups. But while long-distance running in booming in China, concern is rising over poorly regulated races that have sprung up across the country. China's top sports body has responded to the Gansu tragedy by calling for organizers to improve safety. 

The Lanzhou International Marathon, which was scheduled to take place in Gansu on June 13 and is endorsed by the governing body World Athletics, is among the more than 60 races to be shelved, Xinhua news agency said, according to Yahoo!Sports.

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