Thousands run half marathon at F1 Chinese Grand Prix site
Updated 17:12, 06-Jan-2019
Sports Scene
As the Shanghai International Circuit prepares to play host to the 1,000th Grand Prix in Formula One history in April, a special year for the venue would get underway with the fifth annual installment of Run The Track, where 10,000 people packed the home of Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix to run a half marathon at the start of the new year. 
"The idea of holding a half-marathon at the F1 circuit was proposed in 2014, and we decided to stage the event on the first day of the new year, an idea which has flourished with all of the runners. This event has developed remarkably over the last five years, and to welcome even more people, we have established two levels of competition – a 21.6 kilometer race for marathon enthusiasts – and a 5.4 kilometer run race for entry-level participants," said Wei Haichao, General Manager of Bright P.R. Shanghai, the organizer of the event.  
Run The Track 2019/CGTN Photo

Run The Track 2019/CGTN Photo

One of the participants who knows this facility especially well is Cao Zhuo, who won the F4 Southeast Asia Championship two seasons ago. The 17-year-old marked his latest foray onto the asphalt, by driving the lead-out car ahead of the starting gun, before later moving from behind the wheel, and joining the crowd in running a lap.
"I felt special driving the car, and leading the runners onto the track on the first day of the new year, as we start a new chapter in our lives. And when I ran one lap around the circuit, covering 5.4 kilometers, I had a chance to spend more time on the track, and I think I know even more about it right now," Cao told CGTN. 
While the teenager who hopes to someday reach the ranks of F1 enjoyed a single trip around the course, Wang Hongwei quadrupled his distance on the track, to win the men's 21.6-kilometer race in one hour, 10 minutes, and three seconds, while Li Zhixuan earned top honors on the women's side in 1:12:23.
"I started practicing on the track when I was in high school, and continued with more long distance sessions since enrolling in university last year. Winning this event means a lot to me because it happened on New Year's Day and that makes me very happy," Wang said. 
Men's winner Wang Hongwei crosses the finish line. /VCG Photo

Men's winner Wang Hongwei crosses the finish line. /VCG Photo

And Run The Track pulls in not only diehard joggers and marathoners, but also Formula One fans, who simply want to set foot on the circuit.
"Since we know this track is the only Formula One venue in China, it was like paying tribute to legendary drivers when I was on the track. I imagined the stories which took place on the circuit when I was running, while others were talking about the running posts. They were all kind and friendly, and I will absolutely come back again," Guan Xiaomeng, a fan of the event said after the match. 
Another fan Kong Shuai echoed, "I am passionate about anything related to F1. This is my fifth time coming to participate in this event. When I learned about the first edition in 2014, I signed up immediately because I wanted to come to see the track, and run on it during the race. To be honest, I never imagined being able to run so long before my debut, but after that, I fell in love with this event, and the feeling of running marathons." 
But as this event continues to develop, a growing number of hopefuls are unable to register, leaving the organizers mulling over options that will allow more participation in the future.
"The number of registrants is limited because it's hard to have more people on the track. We may consider adding one or two additional groups at different times on the same day, and we are also happy to share our experiences with other organizations who have access to their similar tracks, and want to hold their own events like this," Wei Haichao told CGTN.