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Hebei tourist sites up and running for 2022

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-07 10:09
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Professional skiers and coaches train at a ski resort in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. [Photo by LI XIAONING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

A constant relay of visitors is exceeding previous years by some distance

Deftly collecting the baton from his teammate, Zhao Haiqing rapidly began running from Horse Village, a local hotel and an exchange point along a race route in Zhangbei county, Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. He was keen to waste no time because there was still more than 140 kilometers for his team to complete.

This was the scene on Aug 29 during a grueling relay race with over a dozen sections, each traversed by a runner from each team as their teammates traveled by car, took a rest and prepared to take on the next section.

Wearing a sunglasses and a sun hat, the 39-year-old set off at speed with the aim of finishing the 8.2 km leg, which ended at the Xitan village exchange point, as soon as possible.

After taking the baton-not a short stick but a running arm band containing a GPS device and a timing chip-Zhao promptly strapped it to his left arm as his teammate at the handover point receded into the distance.

"I was all prepared and at full strength for my first section," he says, adding that he was so excited for the special relay race.

Starting in 2015, Zhao has participated in many different running races nationwide, including marathons and cross-country races. "This is the first time I've run such a long distance in cooperation with team members and a car," he says.

The route is all open air and covers 141.6 km over natural terrain, crossing Zhangbei county, Chongli district and Shangyi county in Zhangjiakou.

Located about 150 km northwest of Beijing, Zhangjiakou borders Inner Mongolia autonomous region and features vast areas of grassland and rolling hills. The city covers 36,800 square kilometers, more than twice the area of the capital.

"I anticipated that the course would have some roads with a steep incline, but it still surprised me and gave me a hard time," Zhao says.

"Running the steep sections in Zhangjiakou was too hard, making me tired at the very beginning," he says. Among the three legs he was scheduled to run, which totaled 23.9 km, there was one steep section that lasted more than 2 km. "We should have slowed down on those roads to keep our energy for the long run ahead."

He regulated his breathing and slowed down immediately after he found himself tired and gasping for breath on the steep incline.

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