Leading up to the 2018 New York City Marathon last week, the Xi’an Qujiang Cultural Tourism Company, in partnership with the Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation, hosted the Xi’an Warrior Run in Battery Park City. The day before the event, 30 costumed terracotta warriors visited iconic locations in New York to raise awareness about the run, perform Tai Chi and promote Xi’an culture and tourism.
The warriors visited Central Park, Times Square and Wall Street, and cruised by the Statue of Liberty. The terracotta soldiers are part of Xi’an’s rich cultural heritage and a major tourist attraction. Discovered in 1974, the Terracotta Army includes more than 8,000 soldiers buried outside of Xi’an more than 2,000 years ago to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor. The costumed warriors generated tremendous interest as they interacted with tourists and passersby, teaching them basic Tai Chi moves and sharing Xi’an traditions.
“I’ve read about the terracotta warriors and have always wanted to visit them but haven’t had the chance to go to Xi’an yet. It was awesome to see these costumed warriors performing at Times Square today,” said William Roby, a tourist visiting from Columbus, Ohio, adding, “Xi’an just moved up on my list of places to visit.”
The Xi’an Warrior Run took place along the Hudson River in Manhattan’s Battery Park City. The race featured more than 200 runners and walkers who posed for photos with Xi’an tourist attractions and costumed warriors along the racecourse.
Crossing the finish line at the end of the 3K race in first place with a time of nine minutes and 33 seconds was Ted Brakob. Ms. Wang Genhua, deputy general manager of the Xi’an Qujiang Cultural Tourism Company, congratulated Mr. Brakob, presenting him with the first-place award and encouraging him to visit Xi’an and continue his athletic accomplishments with a bike ride all the way around the top of Xi’an’s fully intact ancient city wall.
Mr. Brakob said “It was an honor to come in first place, but the best part of the day was the delicious Xi’an food. It was awesome to see so many people turn out for the run despite the high winds. Hopefully, I can visit Xi’an soon to see the real terracotta warriors.”
This is the first time that a Chinese city has merged the favorite American pastime of running with Chinese culture to promote tourism in the U.S. Wang Genhua explained to the audience, “The New York City Marathon is known as one of the most popular races in the world. The Terracotta Army is known colloquially as the 8th Wonder of the World and is an icon of the city of Xi’an. Our event was inspired by these two things. By having the Xi’an Warrior Run in New York, we hope to demonstrate the uniqueness of Xi’an to the people here and generate interest for people to experience Xi’an.”
Mr. Li Liyan, cultural counsellor from the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in New York, also spoke at the event, noting “Xi’an has a wealth of cultural assets and is a top destination in China for tourism. Events like this are a great way to encourage cultural exchanges and deepen mutual understanding between China and the U.S.”
Speaking to the runners before the race, Ms. Li Li, president of the Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation, said “When Americans think of historic cities in China, most think of Shanghai or Beijing, but in fact, as the starting point of the ancient Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago, and the capital of China for more than 1,000 years, Xi’an is the historical center of China.”
The Xi’an Warrior Run was an opportunity to get people ready for the 2018 New York City Marathon while also introducing New Yorkers to Xi’an’s unique culture and tourist attractions. Once the most populous city in the world and a key point along an ancient trading route, Xi’an has long attracted visitors from across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In recent years, Xi’an has rediscovered its role as a center for foreign visitors and international cultural exchange in China. It is expected that there will be 260 million global visitors going to Xi’an in 2020.