Marathon runners want new route with more cheering fans

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am

Organisers of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon will consider runners' calls for a new route that passes through the heart of the city and has more spectators cheering them on.

But a suggestion to hold the event in autumn, to avoid hot and humid weather after the Lunar New Year, seems unlikely to be taken up as runners would find it too hot to train in summer.

Participants in the marathon, half-marathon and 10km races on Sunday offered these and other ideas during a phone-in show on RTHK yesterday.

Three competitors were taken to hospital in critical condition. Two were in serious condition yesterday and one was in stable condition, the Hospital Authority said. The trio were among 55 who were taken to hospital suffering from illness or injuries.

Twenty-three, aged between 32 and 57, remained in hospital, with seven in serious condition.

The weather was 'unreasonably warm and humid', said the organiser, the Amateur Athletic Association. Relative humidity on Sunday was 91 per cent and the mercury hit 24 degrees Celsius.

'Weather conditions have been erratic over the past few years ... it is impossible for the organiser to predict when to hold the event,' Dr Lobo Louie Hung-tak, associate professor at Baptist University's department of physical education, said.

A four-time participant of the full marathon said: 'People choose to run in marathons overseas because the routes are flat.'

But he said the leg after the Western Harbour Tunnel was particularly tough because the route went uphill and downhill a few times - and it was towards the end of the race. 'Also, around the world, spectators cheer for runners along the way,' he said.

One female runner said: 'Once I reached Marsh Road [in Wan Chai], people were clapping and cheering me on. It made me run faster.'

She said badges of achievement, presented this year for the first time to runners who finished, were an encouragement to those who completed the course within the given 51/2 hours.

A half-marathon runner said people were worried about not reaching checkpoints within the given time and being disqualified. 'I hope the organisers will give full-marathon runners an extra hour to complete the course.'

Meanwhile, Jamie Chau Cheung Ching-mei, a senior student affairs officer at the Hong Kong Institute of Education who led a team of 80 students, alumni and staff from the institute, and eight pupils with special needs from Mary Rose School in the 10-kilometre races, was satisfied with arrangements throughout. She was particularly impressed with the luggage storage arrangement for the team near Victoria Park.

The special needs pupils, aged between 16 and 18, all completed their 10km race, despite not having a good understanding of the length of the race.