Nearly 30,000 participants ran in the 34th Beijing International Marathon on Sunday but many didn’t finish because of heavy air pollution in the Chinese capital.
Dubbed the “Airpocalypse,” the event took place as the U.S. Department State Air Quality Monitoring Program, which monitors pollutant levels in Beijing, deemed air quality “hazardous.”
The dangerous pollutants are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (denoted PM2.5) and pose serious health risks.
To put things into perspective, here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency deems an air quality level of 0-50 PM2.5 micrograms per cubic meter as “good." During the marathon, Beijing had levels surpassing 400 micrograms per cubic meter, which is hazardous.
Still, the smog couldn’t stop Ethiopia’s Girmay Birhanu Gebry, who won the international race with a time of 2:10:42 and crossed the finish line sans facemask, unlike his fellow racers. To subdue the toxicity, runners wore intricate face masks creating a scene that may become all too familiar in outdoor sporting events in the area.
Check out these six action photos for a glimpse at how runners attempted to beat the “Airpocalypse.”
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