All over parks and public spaces in China, retired people can be seen practicing one of many traditional forms of exercise such as taichi, qigong, and the more modern square dancing. But what do younger people do for exercise?
Running is a popular sport all over the world, thanks in part to the low barrier to entry: a pair of shoes. It's also the quintessential individual sport. Many people run on their own time, clearing their mind after a stressful day at work. So why has such an independent sport become the most common type of exercise in a country that traditionally values the group over the individual? Perhaps because running as a sport is adapting to Chinese customs by focusing on the social aspect of running events.
In 2010, the Beijing Marathon organizers spent months convincing people to register for the race. Less than ten years later in 2017, the marathon sold out in less than half a day. The number of running races held in China has nearly doubled every year since 2015. It's not only marathons and road races but also fun runs, obstacles courses, and destination races. There are even a number of marathons held at the most iconic Chinese tourist site: The Great Wall. What better way to see this world heritage site?
Runners can now be seen circling urban parks on tracks with painted white running lanes and kilometer markers. Some runners have the latest most high-tech gear while others wear just a t-shirt and shorts. Whatever their fashion, age, or ability, they are all joining in one of the most popular global activities and running.