China students cash in on running scheme

People running in Shanghai Image copyright Getty Images

Students in China are earning money as "running mates" for out-of-shape deskbound office workers, it seems.

China's Global Times says some students are earning up to 3,000 yuan ($490; £306) a month as professional running partners who provide a "little old-fashioned encouragement" for their white-collar clients. One of these runners is Chen Li, a 24-year-old from Chongqing in southwestern China. He earns more than 1,000 yuan a month through the 'rent-a-running partner' service he advertises on the Taobao online shopping site.

Mr Chen is available "from 7pm to 12pm on workdays and all day on weekends, and charges 10 yuan an hour for an escorted run and chat", according to his Taobao ad. This is five yuan cheaper than the going rate, and he hopes to pick up more clients that way. Although many office workers cite the need for motivation, Mr Chen says others "sign up for safety reasons while running at night".

Aware that some potential clients are apprehensive of training with young, fit strangers, he suggests that running partners should exchange personal identity details before setting off, and always exercise in public places.

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