HKAAA seeks marathon costs cut
Organisers of this Sunday's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon are facing a bill of more than HK$2.5 million for closing the roads for the showpiece event, which has attracted a record 70,000 runners.
They say the costs could be reduced if roads were closed and handed over for a longer period.
Top Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA) official Kwan Kee revealed that almost 15 per cent of the revenue earned from the registration fees - it costs HK$300 for local runners to register, resulting in more than HK$20 million in revenue - is spent on getting the roads ready for the annual run-fest, which is split into a full marathon, a half-marathon and 10-kilometre races.
'It is quite costly simply because we have the roads for a limited amount of time, in which we have to prepare [the course] for the race, and then afterwards clear everything before a certain time so that the public can use it,' Kwan, HKAAA chairman, said.
The two longer-distance races start on Nathan Road while the 10km events are run on the Island Eastern Corridor. All the races end at Victoria Park.
Organisers are handed control of all the roads at midnight on Saturday. They have to return the Island Eastern Corridor by noon on Sunday, while the roads used for the marathon and half-marathon have to be cleared for public use by 2pm.
'If we had a longer period we wouldn't have to spend so much on the roads and could cut costs. But the fact that we have [the course] for a very limited duration forces us to hire more people and contractors so that everything is in place by the time the races begin,' Kwan said. 'Setting up the course quickly is not cheap. We are forced to spend more to get more people to put up the cones and barriers. But all the money is not only spent on race day. It is not cheap to carry out feasibility studies which the government requires every time.
'This year we are using a small stretch of road that is new, and we had to carry out a study to prove to the government that it is it feasible to run the race there. Everything costs money.'
In addition to the costs for the roads, organisers this year also face the expense of putting on a wheelchair race for the first time.
A full marathon for wheelchair athletes has attracted nine entries, while another 31 people have entered the three-kilometre event.
Age of the world's oldest marathon runner, Fauja Singh, who will take part in the 10-kilometre competition