When senior Communist Party leaders announced a last-minute visit to the sporting facilities in Heilongjiang, China, local sports officials authorized the creation of a right-angle running track to make up for lost time, according to Yahoo Sport.
As you can imagine, their hasty improvisation created a tricky terrain and quite the stir, deviating from the tried and tested oval running track. A worker that was part of the track construction also told the channel: “The current tracks were laid in a rush to deal with the visit by some provincial leaders.”
Newsnight, a regional TV show, sent one of their reporters on site to test the track’s unorthodox design and come up with an informed overview. You can see the video results below.
“I felt a bit strange at the turn,” Li Xiao’ang, the reporter, said, after his attempt at running a full lap.
Xiao Gong, a local woman, was also invited to take a run around the track. “It was quite tricky taking the corner,” she admitted to the reporter. “It would be easy to fall.”
Commenting further she said: “Normally curves speed people up but these corners slow you down. It is quite inconvenient.”
Zhang Ying, a resident interviewed by Newsnight, contemplated on the reason behind this bizarre running track. In good faith we wondered if the corners might have been designed “to prevent people from crashing into each other during races”. “Is it for anti-collision?” he asked.
Sports experts were unimpressed with the new design, pointing out it could cause serious injuries.
“Right angle corners will slow a runner down and stop them achieving good results,” noted Li Yuxue, head of Heilongjiang’s Track and Field Sports Administration.
Let’s just hope that the 2016 Olympic games in Rio won’t hold any similar surprises!