Running renaissance on summer nights in China amid epidemic

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HAIKOU, July 11 (Xinhua) — As the night falls, Zhang Xueyi guides a group of runners warming-up in a coastal park in Haikou, capital of south China’s Hainan province.

After some 10 minutes of stretching and preparing, the 28-year-old, who founded the running group, led the group running around the park.

“I have to control the speed, because the runners are all amateurs,” she said.

Running about 3km, the runners arrived at their destination one-by-one around 8 p.m., and then stretched their limbs to relax under Zhang’s guidance.

Before heading home, they huddled together and took a group photo. “It’s a simple ceremony and also an encouragement to our insistence,” said Zhang.

Founded in 2016, the running group has more than 400 members, most of whom are young people around 30.

“It’s really enjoyable to run along the beautiful seaside,” said Huang Qin, a 28-year-old teacher. “We usually chat with each other while running, which makes it more fun to run.”

“The group can also direct us doing exercise more scientifically,” said Huang, adding warming up and stretching after running were both very important.

Zhang said she initially intended to keep in shape through running. However, when she founded the running group by chance, she began to love running.

“I founded the group to gather people with the same interest,” said Zhang. “Because when you run with a group of people, you will find it much happier.”

Apart from routinely running every Thursday night, the group also organizes other outdoor events, including hiking and camping, which is a great attraction to young people.

“We hope to convey a positive life style through different experiences,” said Zhang.

Affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the group had to stop meeting for several months. “As the epidemic eases, we’ve resumed our activities, but we always keep a one-meter social distance,” said Zhang.

Meanwhile, more and more people became aware of the importance of health because of the epidemic and began to join the running group.

Huo Xue, a 30-year-old clerk, has not run for five years. Seeing the photos posted by her friend on the WeChat Moments, she immediately decided to join the group.

“I’ve been staying at home during the epidemic and gained some weight, so I need to do more exercise to keep fit,” she said.

26-year-old Su Shan is a sport aficionado. “Many gyms are closed during the epidemic, so I can only do some strength training at home, but running outdoors is a good choice,” she said.

Mai Youwang, an official with the provincial bureau of tourism, culture, radio, television and sports, said night running has become one of the most popular ways to keep fit since mass sports events have not resumed due to the epidemic.

“More and more citizens are joining in running, which makes the urban life more colorful,” said Mai. Enditem

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