Rumbles of discontent after participant discovers that, despite forking out, it's a case of first home gets the food

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 February, 2009, 12:00am

Refreshments were not available to at least 3,000 runners after they completed the marathon yesterday, according to a competitor.

So Wai-kwong, who completed the race in about four hours and 40 minutes, said by the time he arrived in Victoria Park, the food packs were already gone.

'I was not depending on their food to survive, but I paid the entrance fee and a food pack is what I deserve,' he said.

He estimated that about 3,000 runners who finished the race after him would also have missed out on the food packs, which included a banana, a pear, a piece of bread, a chocolate bar and a bottle of water.

So, who had been competing since 2006, said this was the first time he experienced such a 'bad arrangement'. He complained to the volunteers in the park but was told to approach the organisers. 'It was only because I complained that they finally fetched a food pack for me,' he said.

'Other people did not get any.'

William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the organising committee, said he was aware of So's complaint and that the committee would follow it up.

'When we ordered the food, we ordered 5 to 6 per cent extra, but fruits like bananas can go bad before the race and then we cannot give them out,' he said.

It was not the first year that the marathon organisers have received complaints on refreshments. A Mak Ka-ping wrote an e-mail to the South China Morning Post last Friday, warning this year's participants that 'the promise of food and drink after halfway may be a bad joke. Last year I ran the marathon and not a single food stop had chocolate although one had half a dozen green bananas'.

'Fortunately I had some of that brown sugar in the slab form to chomp,' the e-mail said.

According to official statistics, 70,290 bananas, 80,600 chocolate and energy bars, 95,000 litres of water and 57,525 pears were available to the runners.