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This is probably one the worst language barrier mishaps when it comes to running. At the Qingyuan Marathon in China, thousands of marathon runners were gifted “fruity soap” in their swag bag, made by company Royal Orchard. At first glance, the packaging looks like your typical sweet snack, and the contents were purple and smelled of grape. However, the insides were definitely not tasty or even food—it was a strongly scented bar of soap, which caused many runners to mistake it for a great on-the-run fuel choice. Whoops.
So what do you do when the packaging at a race in China says “fruity soap” only in English but looks like a fruit snack? You of course eat it, then toss it to the side of the race once the “fruity” label proves to be very inaccurate.
Tons of people flooded social media with images of the product, some blaming the runners for lack of preparedness—why would you choose your fuel from the swag bag you receive the day before?—while others claimed that everyone “should learn English.” The actual point of the soap was to give runners something nice to use during a post-run shower—definitely not to cause illness or injury.
The number of injuries were also staggering, some of which might have had to do with the soap error. According to the Wall Street Journal, medical personnel at the race performed some form of first aid more than 12,000 times, treating 10,000 muscle spasms and more than 1,700 sprains. While China has been actively trying to promote more long-distance running in an improving economy, some experts say the growth is too quick, and too many inexperienced people are hitting the streets—and apparently eating soap.