China Sprints into the Monkey Year

Article by Brian Bergey

Last year I completed my first Ironman Triathlon.  I’m not sure what motivated me to spend six months training through the summer heat, or what pushed me through the pain during the race.  The result, however, is that I’m hooked.

11-1An old proverb says, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”  This can’t be truer of endurance sports, and the Year of the Monkey is offering an amazing lineup of opportunities in China for those who are ready for a challenge and a change.

A decade ago, endurance events in China were something of a side note.  They were something that only piqued the interest of elite athletes or the upper class, those who were actually willing to fork over money to exercise.  However, as China’s middle class has discovered the health benefits of sport, combined with a population obsessed with domestic travel, these types of events have taken off.

In 2015, the Chinese Athletic Association sanctioned 134 endurance events with participation totaling over 1.5 Million, a 40% increase from 2014.  Races like the Shanghai and Beijing International Marathons each saw participation soar to over 30,000 runners.  As this trend grows, event organizers all over China are trying to get their piece of the action.

The Active Network, a global leader in online race registration services, has had R&D offices in Xi’an and Chengdu for almost ten years.  However, last year was the first time they started engaging in domestic events.  Active Network has confirmed that over 450 endurance events will take place in China this year.  These include marathons, trail runs, fun runs, mountain bike events, and triathlons of all distances.

International event organizers have noticed the growing trend, and have started lining up their events in China as well.  Global “fun runs” like US-based The Color Run and Southeast Asia-based The Music Run are both planning multiple Chinese events in 2016.

The biggest shake-up for the China endurance market occurred at the end of 2015 when the Wanda Group acquired the Florida-based World Triathlon Corporation.  WTC is known for their Ironman brand and host over 100 Ironman Triathlons globally each year.  They have already launched registration for their first two Chinese events this fall in Xiamen and Hefei, with speculation that many more will follow.

The point here is that for those of us that are active and interested in upping our game, this year is the perfect opportunity to reach for new goals.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5k Color Run or a 140-mile Ironman triathlon.  Shoot for something that seems out of reach and relish in success when you shatter your goal.

Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary.  It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.  If you quit, however, it lasts forever.”

Ironman Xiamen 2016, anyone?

Notable Upcoming Events:
Zhengkai International Marathon – March
Shangri-La Ultra Marathon – May
Great Wall International Marathon – May
Grassland Marathon and Mountain Bike Adventure, Inner Mongolia – July
Beijing International Triathlon – September
Beijing Marathon – October
Ironman Hefei Triathlon – October
Puzhehei International Trail Run – October
Shanghai Marathon – November
Ironman Xiamen Triathlon – November
Xiamen Marathon – January 2017
The Music Run Shenzen and Shanghai (plus other locations expected) – Coming Soon
The Color Run – Coming Soon
* Keep in mind most marathon and triathlon events offer categories in multiple distances

Online Resources: (Chinese Only)