About 20,000 runners from 32 countries and regions took part in the 2018 Beijing International Running Festival on April 15. Cai Zhenhua, deputy director of the General Administration of Sport, and Zhang Jiandong, vice mayor of Beijing, attended the opening ceremony.

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About 20,000 runners from 32 countries and regions take part in the 2018 Beijing International Running Festival on April 15. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Beijing Marathon was first held in 1956. In 2016, the event was upgraded to a half marathon. The following year, the Beijing International Running Festival was awarded as the "Gold Race of Chinese Athletic Association" for its high quality of services.

The race begins at Tiananmen Square and finishes at the Beijing Olympic Park, coursing through Wangfujing, the Lama Temple, Ditan Park, the National Stadium, and other landmarks in Beijing. This year, the race adopted facial recognition technology for runner registration. At the finish line, organizers set up ice pools to help runners to relax muscles and recover.