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Why 21 Runners Died in Gansu, China, Ultramarathon

Zhang was removed from the one participant working for the cash. Huang Guanjun, the hearing-impaired Paralympic champion, additionally relied on money prizes for many of his revenue. “He lived for the prize cash,” mentioned his good friend, marathon runner Wei Jing. It was a dwelling preferable to the string of strange jobs (waiter, meals supply driver) he relied on after dropping out of highschool.

In Gansu, the first-place finisher stood to win 15,000RMB ($2,324); second place, 12,000RMB ($1,858); third place, 9,000RMB ($1,394); a minimum of 2,000RMB ($310) for everybody within the high 10; and, crucially, 1,600RMB ($247) for everybody who ran the 100 kilometers earlier than the 20-hour cutoff time. For individuals like Zhang and Huang, and lots of different opponents, there was a fortune to be made. Regardless of the steep 1,000RMB ($155) registration price, they have been nonetheless assured a windfall so long as they pushed by way of, it doesn’t matter what the race threw at them.

The centrality of the prize cash thus produced perverse incentives on each side: for the runners, to not withdraw below any circumstance or else danger their livelihoods; for the organizers, the less finishers the much less they’d should dole out, and the extra they may maintain themselves—charitably, to pour into funding tasks within the poor area, or, extra cynically, to line their very own pockets.


Shepherd Zhu Keming emerged as a nationwide hero for guiding half a dozen runners to this cave they used as shelter.
STR/CNS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

FALLOUT

On June 9, the marathon claimed its twenty second life.

Li Zuobi, the Communist Social gathering secretary of Jingtai County, the place the course was set, jumped to his loss of life from his high-rise house constructing after he was known as in for questioning with the get together’s dreaded Central Fee for Self-discipline Inspection and fingered in an official round because the one who ought to “bear the principle duty of management.”

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