Sedan chair racers put shoulders into giving city's charities a lift

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 2008, 12:00am

The economic downturn may have stopped some teams from competing in the annual Sedan Chair Race at Matilda International Hospital on The Peak yesterday, but organisers said the impact on donations was limited.

Most teams dressed up and decorated their sedan chairs, with runners adopting various personas, from the title character of the animated movie Kung Fu Panda, to birthday candles, Star Wars characters and Abba lookalikes. Some 54 teams competed this year, 10 fewer than last year. Teams ran a 3.2km or 2.1km course around Mount Kellett Road, starting and finishing at the hospital.

The eight runners in the Watson Wyatt team, who dressed up as clowns with red wigs and green hats, came second in the 'team best capturing the spirit of the event' category. Member Kenneth Chan Kwok-kai said the whole team came up with the clown idea. 'Everyone is suffering under the financial crisis and so we wanted to put a smile on everybody's face. Clowns can bring happiness to all,' he said.

The weather was extremely warm yesterday for a November morning, 27 degrees Celsius. Mr Chan said he had got used to the heat and 'it is great to have a hat on a sunny day'.

Before the race, the clowns sang and danced to the tune of It's a Small World. Mr Chan said the team had been training for the dance, but they were not sure how to carry the sedan chair properly.

'I was so scared that our passenger might fall off,' he said.

The Fire Services team was the fastest, finishing the longer course in 14 minutes 50 seconds. Trainer Lam Sau-keung said eight runners were selected from a team of 15 firemen.

'We have been running on slopes and doing physical exercises twice a week since September,' he said.

Team member Chan Cheung-hung, who has been running for six years, said they were 'confident' of beating their rival, the Police Force, but they didn't get the chance because officers did not enrol this year.

'We are not the wacky runners. Speed is our theme,' he said.

Organised by the Sedan Chair Charities Fund, the race started in 1975 to raise the profile of the hospital and funds for charity.

In 1907, sedan chairs and rickshaws were the only forms of transport to carry patients to the hospital from The Peak Tram.

Over the past three decades, the fund has raised more than HK$48.3 million for charities that do not receive assistance from the Community Chest, the Jockey Club or the government. There are 40 beneficiaries this year and organisers hope to raise as much as HK$4.5 million.