ina is giving a leg up to remote towns left behind in the race for development. Officials are spending big to promote a small but fast growing sport here, trail running. They're hoping that events like this ultra marathon will help bring prosperity to places like Longyangxia in China's far west.
Reuters Christian Shepherd got a front row seat to the action.>> This particular place, this particular run is a classic example of somewhere that isn't really on the tourist map yet. They're just starting to develop and so they're trying to use this run as a way of attracting people, to bolster their image as being a great place for people who are interested in adventure sports.
Perhaps you wanna come here running one year, cycling the next.>> Local officials have poured more than $233 million into building projects, from sight seeing spots to hotels. State media says the town has had 10,000 visitors so far this year, double the number from 2017. Beijing is throwing its weight behind these kinds of projects, calling for a thousand more towns like Longyangxia to be created by 2020.
But insiders say the industry needs to grow before it gets profitable, and attracting new runners may be tricky. From special shoes to travel costs, this sport doesn't come cheap. He Runyu says he spends thousands of dollars every year.>> Everyone always thinks that running is really cheap. I thought so too, but since I began I realized it can cost a lot of money to participate in competitions.
>> That means big bucks for companies, China's sporting industry is set to hit $17 billion by 2020. Running has come a long way in just ten years, when events didn't get much turnout and people sometimes came geared in jeans and flip-flops. Just this week a Chinese trail runner became the first from his country to win a race at one of the sport's biggest event in France.