72,000 runners ready for Hong Kong Marathon
Organisers manage to squeeze in 2,000 more runners for city's biggest participatory event
A year after crying out that the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon had reached "bursting point" organisers managed to squeeze in another 2,000 runners for today's showpiece. This time, it truly seems saturation point has been reached.
"We need more time and roads. These are the biggest challenges facing us. It has been the case every year but now it is urgent," said Kwan Kee, chairman of the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association. "It is crucial we get more space and more time to run the races."
A record 72,000 runners will take part in the 17th edition of Hong Kong's biggest participatory sporting event. It is 2,000 more than the 70,000 runners entered for last year's event. The extra 2,000 are split between all three categories with 1,000 more than last year in the 10-kilometre events, and an extra 500 runners each in the marathon and the half-marathon.
While Kwan expected few problems this morning, the major stumbling block was the government's reluctance to open the roads for longer. The Island Eastern Corridor, where the 10-kilometres races will be held with 38,000 people entering, has to be opened to traffic by 10am. The marathon and half-marathon routes must be ready by 2pm.
"If we had more time we could hold one or two more races," Kwan said. "If the government can support us by allowing us to use the roads for longer, it will help us hugely."
This year there are six different start times for the 10km events, the first race beginning at 5.30am and the last at 8am. The half-marathon, which has drawn 20,500 entries, will have three start times, while the marathon (13,500) will be split into two starts, with the elite beginning at 6.40am from Nathan Road.
In addition 35 entries have been received for the 3km wheelchair race, while 50 captains of industry and movers and shakers will take part in the Leaders Cup. Both these races will start and finish at Victoria Park, which is also the finish point for all other races.
Hong Kong will also host the Asian Marathon Championships for the third time. The total prize money for participants in the marathon will be US$258,400.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong permanent residents will once again be given an incentive of HK$1,000 for finishing the marathon under an allotted time - three hours for men and 3:30 for women.
Last year, 67 men and women pocketed the incentive.