Fuyang Marathon Experience

The Journey

I hit the road around eight on the 20th, hopped on the 52 bus, then switched to the 53, heading for the sports arena at Fuyang Normal University's West Lake Campus. Long bus rides and I don't mix well; the motion sickness is a real drag. Sitting there, I was a bundle of nerves, fearing I might lose my breakfast. Luckily, I managed to hop off just in time to avoid that awkward moment.

Upon arrival, I approached the main gate and inquired with the security guard about the sports arena. With a friendly smile, he pointed west and said I'd spot it right after the traffic light. Skeptical but determined, I crossed the intersection and saw a crowd that seemed to be there for the same reason as me—I was in the right place.

The pick-up process was straightforward: sign a waiver, show my ID for a ticket, and then collect my race bib, a blue drawstring bag (filled with sponsor goodies and a raincoat for the race), some nuts (initially, I passed on them as a hassle, but I came around and they ended up being a lifesaver), and a shirt (which turned out to be a poor choice; it left my nipples sore post-run. A friend later suggested using Vaseline or a more comfortable running shirt for future marathons, which is advice I'll definitely take on).

On the 21st, the day of the marathon, my roommate gave me a lift from the dorm, and we rolled in around six-thirty. I hoofed it to the registration area, which was more of a cursory security check since eager runners could just hang out by the track and wait.

The term "sea of people" fits the scene perfectly. It was overwhelming at first, but I quickly adapted and went with the flow. I was just biding my time, waiting for the race to start. During the wait, I observed a diverse crowd—students of all ages and adults alike, everyone buzzing with excitement, snapping photos, and recording videos. Amidst the throng, I felt surprisingly calm, detached from the tension. It was as if I was an observer, with only one task: to run.

Using the Keep app to track my run, I was surprised to see it logged only 3.7km. I wondered if there was such a significant discrepancy. But it didn't matter much; even that short distance had me huffing and puffing, probably due to the energy I spent navigating the crowd.


With such a massive turnout, I was curious about the starting procedure. I later learned that the full marathon runners took off first, followed by the half-marathoners, and finally, the fun run participants. It was a slow shuffle to the starting line due to the sheer number of people, but once we were close, we could finally break into a run.

While waiting, I noticed that some people didn't seem to mind strangers photobombing their shots. It's a cultural nuance, perhaps, where privacy takes a backseat to the joy of the moment. There's a certain disregard for personal space when it comes to capturing memories, which might explain why some of China's data giants have thrived. People here are willing to hand over their data for convenience, which has fueled the growth of these companies.

In today's AI-driven world, data is king, and companies are vying to create the next big chat app, hoping to keep users engaged within their ecosystem to collect more data and 'refine' their algorithms.

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