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Participants of a long-distance race hail after its start at Beijing Olympic Park on Sunday. Cui Meng / China Daily
The curtains rose on Sunday on the first Shanghai Citizens Sports Meeting - an event intended to help everyone get fit.
The event, which runs through November, will be held every four years during the period of the Olympic Games.
There will be 50 sports offered and 2,399 games. Residents of Shanghai who want to take part can apply online and at application stations around the city.
More than 200,000 people had already registered before the official opening, and the organizing committee estimated the total number of participants will reach 1 million.
Several Shanghai-born sports stars - including Olympic champion Liu Xiang, retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming and Sun Wen, former captain of the national women's soccer team - appeared at the opening ceremony at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
The city orienteering challenge, the opening event of the five-month period, hit the road in the morning to warm up the metropolis.
A total of 1,320 participants in 330 teams were clocked to finish the 65-kilometer races and assigned to finish different tasks at six Shanghai landmarks during the race.
"The activity is a good channel for people to build up trust with each other and nurture a team spirit, and we are very glad to have the chance to do exercises in such an entertaining way", office worker Hou Zhonghe said after completing his rock-climbing task.
The event also attracted dozens of foreigners living in the city. Daisy Numia from Samoa, who is studying at Donghua University, said she was very excited to attend the challenge with her teammates from other countries.
"I'm happy we are among the first to be part of this," she said.
A long-distance race to spread the Olympic spirit was held in Beijing on the same day.
The 5-kilometer run, tracking around the Beijing Olymic Park and the Beijing Olympic Forest Park, was attended by more than 10,000 people.
Long races with the same theme were held in another 11 cities such as Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenyang and Xiamen on Sunday.