The annual Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on Sunday will see an unprecedented 800-strong medical team on hand to ensure all the runners - totalling a record 72,000 this year - will finish the races safe and sound.
The number of medical staff on duty will increase by 100 from a year ago. The decision was made in the light of the death of a male participant, 26, in the 21-kilometre half-marathon last year. A total of 38 runners also required hospital treatment.
"Last year, a runner passed away unfortunately," William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the event's organising committee, said yesterday. "This year we have tried our best, for example, by holding classes for runners, to appeal to them that they need to pay attention to their training and rest."
The 800-strong team, to come from the government's Auxiliary Medical Service, included 30 doctors and 50 nurses, Ko said.
As in last year, the 42-kilometre marathon, half-marathon and half-marathon wheelchair race will start at Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. The 10-kilometre race will begin on the section of the Island Eastern Corridor at North Point, while the 3-kilometre wheelchair race will start at the Wan Chai Sports Ground.
All will converge on Victoria Park for the finishing line. In anticipation of the crowds, a medical team will patrol the Causeway Bay area as athletes from Lockhart Road enter East Point Road and then Great George Street.
The organisers will set up 35 water stations along the routes, two more than last year, and put 10 ambulances on standby, the same as last year. The support staff on duty will total 5,000, including the 800 medical workers.
Police will close off roads and divert traffic in the New Territories, including the upper deck of the Kowloon-bound Lantau Link, between 11.45pm on Saturday and 1.30pm on Sunday. Similar arrangements will take effect in Kowloon from 12.45am to 1.30pm, and from 2.15am to 2.15pm on Hong Kong Island.
Eight MTR lines will begin operating earlier than usual, with the East Rail and Tung Chung lines taking the lead, at 3.25am.Topics: Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon Sport