Some 30,000 people tried to register online for Hong Kong's flagship marathon in five frenetic minutes last month, leaving its website overwhelmed, organisers said yesterday.
Hundreds of would-be runners were left disappointed as a result, but the organisers of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon insist the application system had not broken down, and that efforts were made to streamline traffic on the site.
Many runners have complained about application difficulties, claiming the site crashed intermittently as soon as registration began at 7am for the February races, particularly for the 10-kilometre run. Some said they failed to sign up despite hours of trying.
Committee chairman William Ko Wai-lam noted that they had staggered the registration for the various races on different dates: the full marathon on October 15, half-marathon on October 22, 10-kilometre race on October 29 and wheelchair events on November 5.
"Such an arrangement has helped us to prevent massive sign-ups," Ko said. "But the number was still overwhelming; our website faced more than 30,000 hits [for the 10-kilometre race] at its peak, from 7.10am to 7.15am."
All the slots were snapped up within three to four hours on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tommy To Wai-kit, 27, has ran in the 10-kilometre race for three years, but was prevented this time by what he called a "terribly lengthy experience" trying to get past the system.
"I had woken up as early as six and had been refreshing the page since 7am, but the site notified me that my application would not go through the system until five hours later," he said - by which time the places had run out.
"I am so disappointed that I could not secure a place in the end. Both my friend and I failed to sign up."
Ko said they were considering holding heats to select qualified participants, the arrangement adopted in many cities, such as Boston. "We are studying other cities' marathon registration systems," he said.
"In Tokyo's balloting system, organisers inform the lucky participants five months before the race, so as to ensure runners have enough time to get themselves ready to run."