Baiyin (China), May 23 (MNN) At least 21 participants were killed during a 100-km cross-country mountain ultramarathon in extreme cold weather conditions in rugged Gansu province in north-western China, media reports said on Sunday.
The 100-km (62-mile) race began at 9 am (0100 GMT) on Saturday in the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Baiyin city in Gansu province as runners clad in t-shirts and shorts lined up under overcast skies.
According to rescue workers, freezing rain and gale hit the area at the high-altitude stretch around 1 pm on Saturday.
The participants suffered from physical discomfort and hypothermia due to sudden drop in temperature. Some participants went missing and the race was halted.
Local government officials organised an all-night rescue operation in freezing temperatures, involving more than 1,200 rescuers.
Another 151 participants were confirmed safe, of the total 172 participants. Eight of them with minor injuries were treated in a hospital, Xinhua news agency reported.
Marathons and extreme sports have seen a surge in popularity among China’s middle class in recent years.