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Runs for adults and children at Gucun Park on June 1
By Yao Minji

WHEN Michael Morris came to Shanghai from England in April 2012, the running enthusiast found it difficult to meet and greet the city's running community because it wasn't very organized.

The 43-year-old had been a member of Serpentine Running Club in London for 13 years and regularly ran a few times a week. To carry on running, Morris and a handful of friends started Shanghai Running, hoping to develop the running community by giving people more options of races in and around Shanghai.

They organized their first race last November at Binjiang Forest Park and more than 70 people showed up. There was no advertising, it was only word-of-mouth, Morris tells Shanghai Daily.

"Many people thanked us for organizing it because they love races but there aren't many in Shanghai. There really is a demand here," he says.

The turnout and feedback encouraged Morris and friends to put on a bigger one at Gucun Park on June 1. There will be a children's 5km race, an adult's 5km and 10km.

Registration is available at www.shanghai-running.com. More than 100 people have signed up and Morris expects around 500.

"Compared with other big cities, the social environment for running could be improved. There are several small pockets of runners training together, but the running community overall is small. So putting on some races will help bring people together and help runners to meet each other," says Morris.

Michael Creasy, a running enthusiast and auditor, moved to Shanghai from the New York City last January, and had similar problems connecting with other runners.

"Shanghai, like the rest of China, is still developing its running community so right now it is a rather small community," says Creasy. "Also, there are few easy-to-run places in Shanghai at the moment so this makes it difficult for first-time runners to get into the sport."

Creasy runs three to five times a week in early morning when the streets are relatively empty and the pollution is lower. His favorite route includes the former French concession area to Sheshan National Forest Park in Songjiang District and from Pudong's Century Park to the sea wall near Pudong International Airport.

He isn't too worried about the air quality since he usually monitors the government air index before running and on most days it's below 200.

Morris, who runs four times a week, also recommends the sea wall, alongside the canal networks and parks like Hongqiao Central Park, Luxun Park, Gucun Park and Century Park. The forest parks like Gongqing Forest Park and Binjiang Forest Park are very good and further afield there's Sheshan with its hills, he says.

Morris and his friends plan more races in Shanghai to bring the running community together and to facilitate runners meeting each other and having a good time.

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