There is a very well known 62-mile cross-country mountain race in the Gansu region of China that attracts some of the best know and successful endurance athletes in China.
On Sunday, 21 of the 172 participants who were in the race died when extreme weather hit the high altitude part of the race.
Included in the deaths were two elite Chinese marathon runners and the winner of the men’s hearing impaired marathon at the 2019 National Paralympic Games.
The tragedy occurred when what was described by officials as “disastrous weather” moved in, affecting the competitors that were on racing between the 12th and 19th mile waypoints. Just like that, ice rain and hail starting pelting the competitors in the area. High winds and fast falling temperatures were part of the disaster too.
Upon receiving distress messages and calls for help, rescue teams were sent to the areas, and then around 2 pm the entire race was called off.
The city of Balyin was one of the organizers of the race, and the mayor expressed his deep remorse for the events that led to the deaths.
“As the event’s organizer, we feel a deep sense of guilt and self-blame, express our deep mourning for the victims and deep condolences to their families and the injured runners.”
According to reports, some of he runners succumbed to hypothermia.
Messages survivors were sending of what they were wintessing from some of the runners that were in the most serious condition and greatest danger were horrifying. One said this: “A few people have already lost consciousness and are foaming at the mouth. Come and save us, quick!”
It’s not like the weather came as a complete surprise, which makes the whole situation even more senseless. The Gansu Meteorological Bureau had warned of muddy heavy showers, hail, lightning, and gale force winds.
This is on one of the poorest regions in China. The area of the race was in Gansu, which borders Mongolia.