Participants in NT Border Run say organisers reckless

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 4:57am

As a British runner died in an ironman triathlon event on Lantau Island last weekend, competitors in another race were battling what they later described as dangerous conditions.

Last Sunday, Daniel Bagshaw, 27, collapsed metres from the finish line at Hong Kong Disneyland. The Hong Kong-based British lawyer was taking part in a 10 kilometre run on the second day of the two-day Hong Kong ITU Triathlon Asian Cup.

As the tragedy unfolded, Border Run racers navigated a route with insufficient water stops, which passed a zone outlawed for runners by the government until this year. Organisers provided no medical care, angry participants reported.

The Border Run saw runners make their way from Fanling to as far as Sha Tau Kok and back, under two competition categories covering distances of 12 kilometres and 20 kilometres.

Richard Castka, publisher of Hong Kong Runner magazine, was amazed at how unprofessionally the race was organised.

"It's nearly a half-marathon distance and people were taking five or six hours to do it, but they were given only three water stops. It is ridiculous.

"The area they were running in is just bush and very tough terrain … The race also started at 9.30am when the heat was already starting to get up."

Afterwards, postings on the magazine's website questioned why Xtraventure Training and Events provided no medical support. Furthermore, the Border Run passed Hung Fa Chai, a route reopened in February after a decades-long government ban on running in the area.

Castka said a number of companies were setting themselves up as event management firms to make the most of the lucrative running boom in the city.

"The question is whether these companies are equipped to do it and if they have the necessary knowledge to do it. That's the worry," he said.

The Xtraventure spokesman said: "We should have stated the condition of the trail more clearly so people could be prepared."

He said distances were initially calculated based on the organisers' first visit to the routes, but they made changes after consulting the police, which extended the lengths.