Around 1 p.m. Saturday, a sudden change in the weather around the city of Baiyin caused some of the 172 participants in the Yellow River Shilin 100km Cross-Country Race to turn back and retire early. Others were less fortunate. Blindsided by hail, freezing rain, and strong winds, 21 runners — many of them wearing shorts, tank tops, and other warm-weather race gear — succumbed to hypothermia and died. Last weekend marked the first case of extreme weather in the event’s four-year history. One participant, Gao Shuang, said the forecast the day before the race hadn’t mentioned possible bad weather.
“By the end of May, Baiyin has entered summertime,” Gao wrote in a post Sunday on social app WeChat that has been viewed over 100,000 times, the maximum number the platform displays. “Based on experience from previous races, raincoats were not listed as compulsory equipment.”