Medical support on hand to help runners struggling with the heat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 February, 2010, 12:00am

Organisers of tomorrow's Standard Chartered Marathon are worried hot and humid weather conditions could cause inexperienced runners to faint, but say adequate medical support will be on hand.

Tomorrow could be 22 to 25 degrees Celsius - hotter than forecast earlier this week, according to the Observatory. Humidity will be 80 to 95 per cent, and runners can expect light rain with sunny intervals.

'We can only hope to provide as much support to the runners as possible,' Kwan Kee, chairman of the Amateur Athletic Association, said. Sixty thousand runners have signed up for the race, including 2,000 from overseas. Plenty of water will be available for runners, but Kwan said organisers would not add extra first-aid staff because of the warmer weather.

Start times have been brought forward by 45 minutes this year, mainly to reduce disruption to traffic. Kwan said that could work in runners' favour, as the temperatures will be cooler earlier in the day. Those in the 10-kilometre races will run between 5.15am and 10am.

'Weather is out of our control, but I suggest runners keep an even speed throughout the race,' Choi Tat-ming, a local distance runner who won the 10-kilometre Master 1 race last year, said. Runners should conserve energy in the first half, Choi said.

The steep rise on the new route via Stonecutters Bridge in Mei Foo could prove challenging. Starting from 10 metres above sea level at the 3km mark, the course climbs to nearly 80 metres at the 8km point.

'Some runners mentioned to me over the past two days that it's so foggy we can't even see the bridge,' Choi said, adding that the humid conditions will be uncomfortable even for experienced runners.

While marathons are becoming more popular in the city, Choi estimated that fewer than half the competitors were serious runners and might not be as well-prepared for the race.

'I've already had people telling me that they intend to go as far as the new bridge for photo opportunities. After that, they will hop on a bus and leave,' he said.

Many of the runners are pupils and Choi said their schools probably helped them prepare for the race.

In addition to the 500 volunteers from the Auxiliary Medical Service who will be on standby tomorrow, organisers have trained 3,000 support staff. Most have existing knowledge of sport safety, Kwan said. They will be located at the 16 water and sponge stations along the routes.