Kilometres of Friendship and Fun (AWA Running Group), by Keri Matwick
An AWA member since 2017, Qian Marquand has only been running for the last decade. So, it was a surprise to her family when she announced she would be running the Beijing Marathon on Oct 29, 2023. Remembering her parents’ reactions, Qian remarks, “As my mother put it, they had never been so interested in any sports events before. Sports had not been a thing in her generation.” Qian adds, “Nobody else had ever run the distance in my family before. They were genuinely surprised and proud.”
Another surprise to Qian was how organized the race was, especially how the Beijing Marathon was announced only 4 weeks before the event. Over 30,000 runners toed up to the starting line at Tian’anmen Square. Every 2.5 km, there was a water station, and each one was about 300m long. There was no waiting and plenty of supply.
All along the way, there were spectators to cheer the runners on, providing a great atmosphere. Finding spots to watch the race in certain areas was difficult though, as Qian’s husband David found, totaling over 20,000 steps as he tracked her progress.
The finish was at the Beijing Olympic Park, yet Qian was disappointed with how underwhelming the finish line was, stating, “No MC, no music, no spectators. I almost wasn’t sure I had crossed the finish line.”
Growing up in Beijing, Qian reflects on the growth of running as a sport in China. “I was very impressed that running has become popular these years. Most runners there seemed to be with some running clubs. And the overall level at the race was pretty high with hardly any walkers. The cut-off time for the entire race was 6:15.” Typical cut-off times for marathons are 7-8 hours.
Finishing at 4:34, Qian was pleased with her time. Running just a few days later, Qian is already on her way to another great decade of running.
Keri Matwick is one of the leaders of the AWA Running Group. She loves to run around MBS and finish with a long black at Toby’s Estate.