Monday, October 20, 2014

• What Happens When 30,000 People Run The Beijing "Airpocalypse" Marathon In "Hazardous" Smog - Tyler Durden

Some 30,000 participants were wondering if the organizers of today's 34th Beijing International Marathon would cancel the event after "a toxic fog enveloped the Chinese capital and smog levels soared to “hazardous” levels." Adding to the confusion, and concerns, even the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece newspaper, cautioned athletes against taking part in the 26.2-mile race, reporting that Beijing’s air was “not suitable for outdoor activities”. 

 
 As the Telegraph reports, "Beijing authorities admitted their city’s air was "severely polluted” on Sunday while the US embassy, which also monitors smog levels, described the situation as "hazardous". The Marathon organizers' answer, however, was that the Marathon would proceed as scheduled.

Beijing marathon today.
9:58 PM - 18 Oct 2014
  
As a reminder, this is what the Beijing Air pollution tracker said 8 hours ago when the marathon was due to begin:

And to think China was so demonstratively eager to reform not only its massive debt overhang, but its air as well: "Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, vowed to “declare war” on pollution in March but Beijing’s “airpocalypse” marathon capped a calamitous month for the city’s environmental authorities."



Once the green light was given, most competitors chose to ignore the health warnings, instead donning facemasks they hoped would prevent toxic air invading their lungs as they gathered in Tiananmen Square ahead of the race’s 8am start.

"It was really exhausting," said Ma Dong, a 22-year-old male runner who was among those to use a mask. “Lots of athletes pulled out halfway because of the haze. It was really uncomfortable wearing a mask during the marathon as you can't breathe freely.”



On your marks, get set, wheeze! Beijing marathon sets off in heavy smog
 
Organisers told the Beijing News they handed out 140,000 water-soaked sponges to athletes, advising them to "clean" their skin after it was “exposed to the air”.

Luo Changping, a Chinese journalist, posted a photograph of one runner sporting a military-style gas mask. “I’m not running the marathon. I’m going back to the World War,” the journalist wrote.



Beijing marathoners just ran through pollution more 
than 13 times the level considered safe
Not all made it to the finish line across town near Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium. “Some of the runners have given up in the 2014 Beijing Marathon due to serious air pollution,” the People’s Daily reported.


Beijing Marathon runners forced to 
wear masks to combat smog
Ying Wei, a 23-year-old runner, admitted his “lung hurt quite badly during and after the race”.

Just give it a few more weeks: we are confident the pain will simply go away.

In any event, the end result was a surreal photo album of the "airpocalypse" marathon, perhaps the best harbinger of the globalized future, as of thousands of people jogged across downtown Beijing in gasmasks.

At least there was no Ebola scare to force the runners to wear full Hazmat suits...





Thousands of runners signed up for the Beijing marathon, hoping to better themselves in the 42 km race. But the 34th Beijing International Marathon which took place on Sunday was not a fit place for a record, as air 
pollution soared to 16 times the maximum recommended level.




Despite the air pollution, one man gives a thumbs-up in front of Tiananmen Square on Oct. 19, 2014. Image via Reuters

The air in Beijing is among the most polluted urban areas in the world. The level of small pollutant particles known as PM2.5 reaches a critical level – more than 400 micrograms per cubic meter. These particles are especially dangerous with a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3.

“I was basically a vacuum cleaner,” William Liu, a 30-year-old banker, told Bloomberg after completing the marathon.

Even the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s newspaper warned that Beijing’s air was “not suitable for outdoor activities”. Some runners were forced to abandon the race; one unnamed Chinese participant told the Telegraph that he was pulling out of the race because of the smog. Ying Wei, a 23-year-old runner, admitted his “lung hurt quite badly during and after the race”.

But most competitors decided to ignore the health warnings and run to the best of their capacity. Organisers told the Beijing News they handed out 140,000 water-soaked sponges to athletes, advising them to “clean” their skin after it was “exposed to the air”.

Runners chat as they jog through the thick smog of Beijing. Andy Wong / AP

Luo Changping, a Chinese journalist, posted a photograph of one runner sporting a military-style gas mask.

“I’m not running the marathon. I’m going back to the World War,” the journalist wrote.

Only 1% of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union, because all of its major cities are constantly covered in a “toxic gray shroud”. Before and during the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing was “frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.”

Beijing on a clear day (left) and on a smoggy day (right). Image via Wiki Commons

According to the National Environmental Analysis released by Tsinghua University and The Asian Development Bank in January 2013, 7 of 10 most air polluted cities are in China, including Beijing….