Authorities tell Mizuno Fat Choi Race runners to stick to noise regulations
Entrants in annual Mizuno Fat Choi Race speak up over being told to keep the noise down as they contend with unpopular new regulations
Restrictions on noise levels placed on yesterday's annual Mizuno Fat Choi Race at Victoria Peak drew hisses from among the almost 900 runners participating in the first road run in the Year of the Snake.
A spokesperson for the organiser, the Hong Kong Ladies Road Runners Club, said the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) had made restricting noise levels a key condition of allowing the 7.5-kilometre race - which yesterday marked its 32nd anniversary - to go ahead.
"The permit specifically stated noise levels must be monitored and that the guidelines had to be carried out to the letter," the spokesperson said.
"To comply with the new regulation we had to buy a special device to monitor the sound levels throughout the race. In spite of this, the LCSD were very helpful and accommodating with the overall management of this very popular race."
A larger number of police officers were on duty than in previous years to handle both motorised and foot traffic around the Peak Galleria, where the race started and then passed on two further occasions on the figure-of-eight course.
A number of runners expressed their dismay at the new regulation and questioned the level of noise generated at an athletic event compared with that produced by the 350,000 people gathered around the harbour the previous evening for the New Year's day fireworks display.
Women's race winner Jane Hodgskin said while she accepted the need to limit excessive noise at large gatherings of people, exceptions should be made for athletic events. "There doesn't seem to be much consistency when you demand quiet from an athletic event, but then allow high levels of noise from everyday situations such as traffic and construction noise," said the 30-year-old, who won the women's race in a time of 28 minutes and 56 seconds.
"And why pick on this race? Will the same conditions be enforced during the Standard Chartered Marathon with 65,000 people? The Fat Choi Race has a sentimental value for me, as it was the first race I entered when I arrived here in 2007. The race organisation was fantastic then and still is today, so I don't see the need for additional restrictions."
Former men's champion Kjeld Dissing chose to run yesterday's race behind his 14-month-old son, Kasper, who was in a racing pushchair. But, like Hodgskin, Dissing was somewhat bemused to learn that the staging of the race was in some doubt.
"When the Hong Kong symphony is the sound of jackhammers and car horns blaring all day every day, I think it's completely absurd to impose a noise restriction on a running race," he said.
"This race was taking place well before most of the residents of the Peak ever came to live here, so they should simply accept it as one of Hong Kong's long established sporting traditions and embrace the spirit of the event.
"Entries for the race were snapped up in only three hours, so it shows just how popular this race is. And the fact that everyone went home by 10.30am clearly shows that the race is not a disruption to anyone."
The men's race was won by Thomas Kiprotich in 24 minutes and 27 seconds.