BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- A nationwide winter running event for Chinese students has been launched in Beijing, in which participants will run the distances between Chinese islets or cities and the Diaoyu Islands.
At the long-distance running event called "Sunshine Sports," students from primary schools, junior high schools, and senior high schools and universities will be expected to run 800 to 1,000 m, 1,500 m, and 2,000 m each time, respectively, until they've achieved the specified distance for their age group.
The students' total distances will respectively reach 140 km, the distance from Taiwan's Pengjia Islet to the Diaoyu Islands, 190 km, that from Keelung City, Taiwan, to the Diaoyu Islands, and 350 km, the distance from Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, to the Diaoyu Islands.
Sports combined with patriotic elements help stimulate students' passion for physical exercise, according to organizers.
China has firmly defended its "undisputed sovereignty" over the Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islets in the East China Sea during territory disputes with Japan.
The event, launched by the Ministry of Education on Friday, is themed "Love the Motherland, Starting with Physical Exercise."
The physical health of Chinese students is a major concern. Long-distance running in winter helps strengthen students' health and forges a strong psychological quality, said deputy minister of education Du Zhanyuan, who led runners during the launch ceremony.
Under China's exam-based education system, excessive emphasis on learning and academic performance has come at the expense of children's playtime and sports activities.
Health statistics have shown that the health of the country's children and young people is unsatisfactory. A 2010 health report showed that college students aged 19 to 22 were found to be slower and weaker than those of previous generations, and the situation was worse in cities.