October 20, 2014

There were 344 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in Beijing's air on the day of the marathon; 25 is considered a healthy limit.     Photo: Hung_Chung_Chih/Thinkstock

Beijing Marathoners Brave the Smog

Pollution nearly 14 times the healthy limit

Despite a government warning for people to avoid going outdoors due to heavy smog, roughly 30,000 participants ran in the 34th annual Beijing International Marathon on Sunday. 

According to the Atlantic, the Chinese capital registered 344 on the PM2.5 scale, which measures the micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. The World Health Organization deems 25 micrograms to be a healthy level.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center warned people to stay indoors, but race organizers determined it was too late to postpone the event, with 46 percent of competitors traveling from abroad and other parts of China to run. Given that smog levels were nearly 14 times the healthy limit, some runners wore face masks to guard themselves against the pollution. Race organizers also placed sponges at course stations so the participants could wash off their skin. CNN reports that several runners withdrew before and during the race out of fear for their health.

British runner Chas Pope dropped out after six miles because his mask was filthy, according to BBC News China. Pope also tweeted that the only warning of pollution from the organizers came late Saturday night, when they claimed there might be light to moderate haze. “It felt pretty ridiculous given we’re meant to be running for health and fitness,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.

Ethiopia’s Girhay Birhanu Gebru won the men’s race for the second year in a row with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 42 seconds, a little more than three minutes behind the course record. Fatuma Sado Dergo, also of Ethiopia, won the women’s competition in 2:30:03. So far, there have been no reports of serious health problems among the competitors.


The man said he discharged bear spray at the charging bear before shooting it when it was seven to 10 feet away.     Photo: Dennis Donohue/Thinkstock

Hiker Who Shot Grizzly Will Not Be Prosecuted

U.S. Attorney's Office says it won't pursue charge

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced last week that it would not pursue charges against Brian Murphy, a 57-year-old Texan who had been charged with illegally discharging a firearm in Glacier National Park, according to a report in the Missoulian. Murphy had shot a grizzly bear while hiking in July.

Murphy said the bear was drawn to him when he shouted to warn downhill hikers of the bear’s presence. He claimed he fired his .357 revolver only when the bear was about 10 feet away and undeterred by bear spray. He reported the shooting to a park ranger and turned in the gun. The wounded bear has not been located.

A 2010 law made it legal to carry guns in national parks, but it remains illegal to fire a gun in many of them, including Glacier.