Runner collapses and dies after finishing race

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 February, 2012, 12:00am


A 26-year-old male runner collapsed and later died in hospital after competing in the half-marathon race yesterday, casting a pall over the city's biggest participatory sporting event.

A total of 38 runners were sent to hospital for treatment, with 10 being released in the afternoon. Two other runners - a 24-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man - were in critical condition last night in Ruttonjee Hospital, Wan Chai.

With a record 59,175 runners taking part in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, it was the first fatality since 2006, when a man died a day after collapsing 13 kilometres into the marathon.

Despite yesterday's tragedy, organising committee chairman William Ko Wai-lam said they would not ask participants for medical approval as a prerequisite for joining the competition, which features the marathon, half-marathon, 10-kilometre and wheelchair events.

'It's not practical,' he said. 'Even if a runner carries a medical approval, no one can guarantee he would not run into trouble. There is always a potential risk in taking part in any sporting event and any participant has to take care of their own before they start the race.

'Over the past two years, we have launched many education programmes and clinics to provide the participants with sufficient knowledge about the marathon, including a lot of safety measures.'

Ko said emergency personnel were quickly on the scene when the runner collapsed 40 metres after the finishing line.

'We deployed over 600 medical staff with 10 ambulances along the course. There were also three medical officers, nurses and auxiliary medical-services people at the finish. We were able to provide quick on-the-spot treatment after the runner collapsed,' he said.

Lobo Louie Hung-tak, an associate professor at Baptist University, said many people did not train enough before the race. 'A runner needs at least six months' regular practice before his body can get used to a 21-kilometre race,' he said.