As temperatures dropped in the Yellow River Stone Forest, runners started reported suffering hypothermia, while others went missing.
The marathon organizers called off the race and launched a search party of 1,200 people to scour the complicated terrain. The search operation continued after dark.
Most competitors were wearing thin shorts and T-shirts, particularly unsuitable for the cold conditions that set in.
He said he decided to abandon the race. “I retreated back to halfway down the mountain, and entered a wooden cabin at the direction of a rescuer. There were already about 10 more runners who came down earlier and we waited for rescue in the cabin for about an hour. Eventually about 50 runner came and took shelter in the cabin.”
By Sunday morning, 151 of the 172 race participants had been confirmed safe, with eight in hospital. Another 21 were found dead, according to the state-run People’s Daily.
The race’s distance of 100 kilometers was more than double that of a standard marathon.