Terrible news out of China … where 21 elite athletes died during a 62-mile, ultra-marathon race when the group got caught in a freezing storm that appeared out of nowhere.
The event — known as the Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon — began Saturday morning when the weather was sunny and nice.
Most of the 172 runners had anticipated normal weather conditions and showed up to the race in shorts and t-shirts, typical running garb.
But, things took a sudden turn just after noon around the Yellow River Stone Forest — when a freezing cold storm moved in, punishing the runners with a barrage of hailstones, rain and icy winds.
Some of the athletes reportedly recognized the deadly conditions and tried to seek shelter … others apparently tried to push through it (remember, these athletes are some of the toughest people in the world).
According to reports, some of the runners began experiencing hypothermia — and eventually, the organizers pulled the plug on the race.
Realizing the situation was turning deadly, a 1,200 person search party was dispatched to locate and rescue all of the athletes. Officials also used thermal-imaging drones to find the participants … but it proved to be too late.
In total, 21 runners died from the weather. At least 8 more were hospitalized.
One of the dead has been identified as 31-year-old Liang Jing — one of the top ultra-marathon runners in the world. He’s survived by his wife and newborn baby.
Another victim is Huang Guanjun — who won the marathon for hearing-impaired athletes at the 2019 National Paralympic Games in China.
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