Fancy a .... pumpkin? Beers removed from controversial Hong Kong street race

Social enterprise RunOurCity dropped plans to offer runners beers after Department of Health warned of health risks and opted instead for a Halloween theme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2017, 6:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 3:41pm

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Instead of offering beers to runners, Hong Kong social enterprise RunOur City will offer pumpkins as it changes the format of its controversial event to four Halloween-style street races in Kowloon on October 29.

The enterprise abandoned its original plan for a “beer run” in early November, with participants drinking four cans of beer while running 1.6km, after the Department of Health warned of health concerns.

“We have now changed the format into a Halloween streetathon,” co-founder and CEO Andes Leung said.

In line with the Halloween theme, the event will include a “Pumpkin Race” in which teams of two run with a squash to stations along the route and carry out tasks. “This is mainly for families and couples who will hopefully come along and participate”, Leung said.

Individuals or teams can choose between four distances – 3km, 5km, 10km or a half marathon of 21km before joining a “carnival type party with pop singers and a concert”, Leung said.

RunOurCity wants 3,000 to 4,000 people to sign up to raise money for two local charities. One of them – Youth.ROC – was set up by the social enterprise in 2013 to promote distance running among teenagers.

The fee for joining had been cut from HK$348, which included beer, to between HK$100 and HK$200, which will include a Halloween streetathon T-shirt, Leung said. Registration opens online on Friday.

Those who have already paid for the beer run will get a refund as well as get HK$50 off the Halloween race if they sign up again, according to RunOurCity’s Facebook page. Venue details for the race will be announced later.

In August 2016, RunOurCity held a competition at night that included both beer and running.

But earlier this month, Director of Health Constance Chan Hon-yee called on the social enterprise not to encourage drinking during the event or provide alcohol to runners.

Chan said drinking alcohol while running would increase the risk of falling and heat stroke as it would affect the central nervous system and lead to a higher risk of dehydration due to greater urination.

The enterprise has organised streetathon events since 2014 in Kowloon and Central to raise money for Youth.ROC and other charities.