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sport talk:
Marathon Madness

With the return of the annual Toray Shanghai Marathon on 5 December, the city’s runners are limbering up for the athletic event of the year. More than 20,000 runners from across the globe participated in last years’ event, with equal numbers expected to compete in 2010.

Along with Dalian, Xiamen and Beijing, the Shanghai Marathon is recognised as one of China’s four major international marathons by the State General Administration of Sports. Event organisers Toray predict runners will be able to “comfortably complete” this year's 42 kilometre course, which has been specially charted to pass by some of the city’s most well-known attractions, including the Bund and the Shanghai Expo site.

The gruelling challenge begins at 7.30am at Nanjing Dong Lu’s Century Plaza. Runners will cross the finish line hours later at the newly-built Oriental Sports Centre. A total of 1.8 kilometres of the race will be spent underground, as the runners cross the Huangpu river via the Fuxing tunnel. And they better be quick about it. Participants must complete the course within six hours, while half marathoners are expected to finish in three.

A number of professional runners are expected at the event, including two-time winner Gashaw Melese Asfaw of Ethiopia, who finished last year’s course in 2:10:10, and last year’s women’s half marathon winner, Japanese runner Mai Ito. Another participant in this year's event is Kyle Long, co-founder of UnTour Shanghai. Combining sightseeing with jogging, UnTour Shanghai offers tourists and residents alike an active way to see more of Shanghai and keep up with their fitness goals. “It's a really great way to show people an overview of Shanghai’s hotspots so they can come back and explore themselves later,” says Long. “We run at the customer’s pace and offer several different routes through parks, the French Concession, Old Town and much more. There is so much to see in Shanghai if you can find your way!”

A seasoned marathon runner himself, Long believes anyone can complete a marathon, with the right training. “It's a sport that anyone can train for with a proper plan. An 18-week training plan for marathon runners helps them structure their runs to go a bit further with each long weekend run. You only have to do one long run per week,” he explains. “Pretty soon you’ll be running 15 or 20 miles at a time without even realising it. That slow progression is all your body really needs.”


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