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Marathon Runners Mistake Soap For Candy Bars

Even worse, about 12,000 of 20,000 runners were injured while participating in the Marathon in China.

Posted on March 25, 2016, at 3:54 p.m. ET

Running a marathon has become a new way for people in Qingyuan, a city in southeast China, to kick off spring. On a foggy morning last Sunday, the city held its second such event — 20,000 runners participated.

As China's economy lifts, people are starting to care more about health issues — hence the running and a new focus on cleaning China's polluted air. These farmers, for example, sell bags of fresh air to tourists in Qingyuan.

Vcg / Getty Images

Some things, though, went very wrong, very fast. The marathon's emergency workers rendered first aid for spasms, sprains, bruises, stomach aches, and lightheadedness, the People's Daily reported.

"#QingyuanMarathon My brother He Yanqing participated in Qingyuan Marathon and his number was C2674," Weibo user He Meili wrote in one of several posts after learning that her brother was among the 23 runners reported by People's Daily who were hospitalized.

Among them five were in critical condition, fortunately four have already been released, Sohu News reported.

"At 2pm, his colleague called me saying that he was sent to the ICU during the marathon. He had been in a coma for three hours ... and in a life-threatening condition."

The next day she updated with good news: that her brother was out of danger. "In two days he won a marathon, in ICU, and overcame himself," he wrote.

First aid was administered to 12,000 people. The actual number of injured participants could be smaller if some runners has multiple injuries. Still, the number of injuries is overwhelming for a marathon with about 20,000 people.

The runners who reached the finish line were excited to recharge. Organizers handed out these fruity-looking packages — in English only — for free. Several poor souls thought it was a candy or energy bar — and gave it a big ol' bite.

It was soap. People freaked out on the internet.

As this user said on Weibo: "Putting aside the marathon, when we finished 1km [mandatory] run tests [in high school], guess some of you weren't able to distinguish water from laundry detergent."

This comment received almost 3,000 likes.

A spokesman for the marathon organizers told local newspaper Qingyuan Daily that they passed out the packets so runners could take a comfortable shower after the race.

Over 12,000 seek medical help in S #China’s marathon, some mistook soap in gift pack as food

Thanks, marathon organizers.🚿

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.