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Centenary celebrations going the extra mile

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-19 09:31
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Runners in Shanghai set off on a themed long-distance relay race staged as part of the celebrations to mark the 100-year anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Party's 100-year anniversary hits the road for long-distance relay race

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China this year, the nation's sports community is staging a series of special events to honor the CPC's glorious history and further promote the national fitness campaign.

Among the multitude of events so far was a long-distance relay run in Zhejiang province on April 11. A total of 800 runners from 100 teams started the 132.8-kilometer challenge at the memorial site of the First National Congress of the CPC in Shanghai, with the finish line located at a site of huge historical significance to the Party-the South Lake in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

In 1921, the first CPC National Congress reconvened in a red boat on the lake after it was interrupted by authorities in what was then the French concession in Shanghai.

"I'm very excited to attend the event today. It's an opportunity to influence the next generation," said Bao Qi, a 97-year-old former navy general who was a guest of honor at the relay's brief opening ceremony.

"I joined the Communist Party of China in 1942-nearly 80 years ago. I lived in Shanghai through my childhood. When I was in the second year of middle school, my teacher at that time called us to defend our nation in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. That's when I became a soldier.

"The CPC leads the country to be stronger and richer. I want to encourage the future generations of our country to keep fighting for China and build a better and better future."

The eight-man Jiaxing Red Boat Pioneers team ran out the winner of the grueling race, clocking an impressive 7 hours 50 minutes and 19 seconds.

"Our team is comprised of physicians, students, teachers and police officers. We are all regular participants in marathons and long-distance running events," said team leader Kong Jie.

"This is a very special event for all of our runners. And we are deeply honored to run the race. We hope our spirit can influence others and attract more people to running and sports in general. We want to make our own contribution to the national fitness campaign."

Guaranteeing the safety of all participants without compromising the quality of the race was a tough challenges for organizers. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in many parts of the world, runners, staff, volunteers and media were required to report their travel histories within 14 days and submit negative COVID-19 test results 72 hours in advance.

Runners were required to maintain a meter's distance from each other at each of the seven changeover points, and were asked to wear face masks after the race.

Two-hundred referees, 300 volunteers and over 3,000 security staff were on duty to safeguard runners, while 37 medical stations-20 in Shanghai and 17 in Zhejiang province-were positioned along the track. Shanghai provided 15 ambulances; Zhejiang had 10 at the ready.

"Jiaxing has experience of hosting marathon races, and we continuously communicated with Shanghai on how best to host such a special event," said Wang Lei, the director of Jiaxing Sports Bureau, co-organizer of the relay.

"Both Shanghai and Jiaxing were the birthplaces of the Communist Party of China. We've been planning the event since last year and we even hosted test events. After we made the announcement to host the event, we received very positive feedback from local runners and running groups. And we had great input from other government departments and enterprises."

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