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Local Shanghai Life and Run the Track (RTT)

Today’s Shanghai is not only a benchmark of modern metropolitan development, but is also a melting-pot of unique lifestyles that is different from any other, in China or the world.

When traveling abroad, locals from Shanghai will proudly claim “I am from Shanghai” rather than just from China. For travelers, Shanghai is a dream destination that must be thoroughly experienced first-hand

As a local Shanghainese myself, I would like to take this chance to introduce and take you into my home town, and share with you some special knowledge and experiences unknown to many.

History at a Glance

shnaghai old street

Both my parents were born in the 1950’s, which was a defining era after the liberation of China. Meanwhile, a cruel war was taking place in Korea and we had to be a part of it. This was followed by The Great Leap Forward (1958–1962), which began as a good hope for the people, but brought about other hardships. These events are just some of the challenges that my parents’ generation has had to endure. Today, however, we are proud to look back and see the progress and achievements we have made as a country in just a few decades.

My parents used to tell me that when they were young, there were three big items, namely bicycles, sewing machines, and Shanghai-brand watches. When they got married in the 80’s, the new fashion was refrigerators, 9-inch black-and-white TVs, and washing machines. Moving up to the 90’s, audio and video recorders, and air conditioners became the new big thing.

Nowadays, with the rapid development of Chinese society, people work very hard to earn more, which leads to even further materialistic trends. A common saying nowadays in China, is that you must have three things; “Fangzi, Chezi, and Piaozi” which means a house, a car, and lots of cash. This shows the extent of the transformation Shanghai and China have undergone.

To me, however, this has always been a somewhat false measure of success. Instead, I look around at the city we are living in, and realize that such things are a very insignificant aspect of it.

Shanghai’s Charm

shanghai the bund

If you go out for an early-morning jog out on a typical day in Shanghai, you will meet and experience new things you couldn’t have even imagined prior.

Away from the busy city life and enormous skyscrapers, you can find a serene little park sheltered under cedar trees. Aside from the other younger people who come out to run and lift weights, you might see seniors playing cards together around parks. A few feet away, you will notice a pile of fliers with personal profiles laid out on the lawn. This is the ‘match-making corner’ where individuals go to seek arranged marriages. This is a surreal contrast of generations, but is part of the beauty of the city.

Such a simple experience already paints a very clear picture of the unique Shanghai lifestyle. If this is something that interests you, then keep reading, as there is much more!

The Annual ‘Run the Track’ Event

‘Run the Track’, or RTT for short, is an annual road-running event held on January 1st every year in Shanghai since 2015. It is held at the iconic landmark Shanghai International Circuit, which is a motorsport race track, situated in Jiading District. The circuit is best known as the venue for the annual Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix. The race consists of 3 categories: 4-Lap Run with a total distance of 21.6 kilometers, 1-Lap Fun Run of 5.4 kilometers, and the 3 kilometers Kids Run. The 6th edition of Run the Track has taken place on January 1, 2020, and had a new category added; the Elite Run, which includes 4 laps (21.6 kilometers) with a 2-hour cut-off time.

Over the course of its 6-year history, Run The Track has become one of the largest running events in Shanghai with more than ten thousand participants, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of spectators who come to set their new-year resolutions, but also celebrate the new year with a good cause, and in a unique way.

I was introduced to the amazing activity through my younger cousin, who has been attending since 2017. Now, I have participated for three consecutive years (since 2018), and it has taught me a lot about the city I love. I have come to cherish this opportunity, which enable me to express my persistence, courage, and gratitude.

The slogan of the RTT race is 蒸蒸⽇上, which literally translates to “Warm Days Up”. It is a good slogan to start the new year, and symbolizes the hope it brings to the people.

To me, this race is a perfect example of the development of Chinese society, which now has learned to cherish and embrace the natural beauty of our cities, and integrate it into our pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and involvement in the community.

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