China / Society

Safety claims first place at race

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-23 23:39

Medical teams in Beijing are on their marks for the marathon on Sunday after a runner died in Guangzhou several days ago.

The teams ― including six motorcycles, 25 ambulances, 110 medical professionals, 480 volunteers and a command vehicle ― will serve the 30,000 participants from across the world.

"The medical team is fully prepared," said Wang Lixin, an official with Beijing Emergency Medical Center who is responsible for the event's medical service.

A volunteer will be deployed every 100 meters, and every 5 kilometers there will be a medical booth with medical advice and medicine, Wang said.

Weather is the biggest concern.

The Beijing International Marathon, held annually since 1981, is traditionally held in October, when the mercury is usually above 10 C in the Chinese capital.

But it was postponed by about a month, meaning the temperature may be just around 5 C, according to the weather forecast.

The organizing committee didn't say why the event was delayed this year.

On Nov 18, a 21-year-old college student fainted at the finish line after completing a 10 km race held alongside the Guangzhou International Marathon and died later in hospital of a heart attack.

The death sparked public concerns over the risk of running a marathon.

The website of the Beijing marathon has articles and instructions on how to train and prepare, how to run in winter, and how to avoid injuries.

On Sunday, the event's organizer will also offer warm-up exercises, cold-proof raincoats, chocolate and other supplies along the route, according to Wang, who joined the organizing team in 2006, after two deaths in 2004 and one in 2005.

Zhao Shan, the official in charge of volunteer organization, said 2,500 student volunteers are recruited from 14 colleges, including 480 medical volunteers from Peking University Health Science Center and Beijing Sport University.

Those medical volunteers are either medical majors, or have received training and have first aid certificates.

Wang Peng, a senior student at Beijing Sport University, has been a medical volunteer at the event three times and is the college's volunteer leader this year.

He said the training is complete and practical, and volunteers were specially trained on how to deal with cold weather.

"The preparation is getting better year by year," Wang Peng said.

However, Wang Lixin, the official, said that the safety of the race also depends on the racers' cooperation.

Four years ago he saved a 60-year-old man during the race, and was surprised when the man said he had a heart problem that would have prevented him from registering in the first place if he had revealed his condition.

"Such deception is very irresponsible," Wang Lixin said.

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