Hong Kong Marathon offers 2,000 more runners chance to compete
Only 2,000 extra places will be available for next year's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, despite the huge demand to take part in the annual sporting extravaganza.
Organisers have stuck to the same route as last year and insist the limit of 72,000 places is the maximum unless roads are closed for longer.
"We need to find a new route or extend the cut-off time for race day if we want to further expand the quota, but we know this is not easy," said William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the organising committee. "The 72,000 figure is possibly the highest we can accommodate under the current conditions. Of course, we may be able to expand the quota a bit more, but the room for further expansion will be very limited."
Some have suggested holding the race in Sha Tin, along the Tolo harbour highway, or in Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, but Ko reiterated the importance of staging the race in the city area.
"We have to consider the needs of different parties, such as the organisers, athletes, sponsors and other road users for such a big event and using the West Kowloon highways and Victoria Park as the finish has been the best possible route. I can foresee there won't be any major route change in the next three or four years."
Ko said they had requested the final stages of the race be moved to the wider Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay before reaching the finish in Victoria Park, but that was rejected by police. "They said if we close Hennessy Road, it will cause a big traffic jam on Hong Kong Island because all transport in the area will need to go through Percival Street and this will become a nightmare," he said.
Total prize money has been increased by 13 per cent to US$258,400 in a bid to attract more top-quality runners.
A time bonus of US$10,000 is also on offer for finishing in under two hours 10 minutes and 30 seconds for men and 2:28:00 for women.
Ko said event organisers would try to secure athletes who had participated in the London Olympics, while top runners from the region were also targeted as the 2013 edition had been designated for the third time as part of the Asian Marathon Championships.
The phased registration period would "alleviate the numbers of participants registering online to more manageable numbers, [and give] runners a smoother registration process", organisers said.
Registration for the half marathon and marathon - and the wheelchair races (half marathon and 3km) - will start on October 24, at 7am, while registration for the popular 10km race (38,000 quota) will start on October 31, also at 7am.