January date change for 2015 Hong Kong Marathon 'will make it harder'
Jane Richards says shift may see freezing temperatures, which is undesirable for her, but Stefano Passarello welcomes the switch
A move to stage the 2015 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon in January was "undesirable", the reigning women's half-marathon champion Jane Richards said yesterday.
Organisers yesterday revealed the event will be staged on January 25 next year, so "runners can benefit from the generally more favourable weather conditions".
"Personally, it's undesirable. Had it been held in January this year, I would likely not have run," said Hong Kong-based Australian Richards, who claimed her first triumph in a 20-year running career when she finished first overall in this year's event on February 16.
"It may not only be freezing cold earlier in the year, but this move forward will mean I will have to train during the holiday period [Christmas] and that makes for miserable training," Richards said.
"I would prefer to take a break over the holidays and then ramp up my training again and race in February."
Michelle Lowry, the fastest local woman in the marathon this year, said: "I think mid-February is cool enough and is possibly a better balance between the needs of the runners for cool race temperatures and cool training temperatures.
"An ideal marathon time is at the end of a season, and I don't consider the end of January the end of the training season in Hong Kong."
The race has been held in February in the past three years.
This year, 30 runners were taken to hospital, seven fewer than in 2013. In 2012 one man died, the first serious casualty since 2006.
"The weather was one of the reasons why we moved the race forward as we hope to get cool and dry conditions, so everyone can feel more comfortable," said Kwan Kee, Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association chairman.
"The other reason is that next year Lunar New Year will be in mid-February and if we were to hold the race around that time, we will not be able to get Victoria Park [finish line] as that venue will be booked for other things like the flower market.
"We need to secure the finish line at Victoria Park due to the large number of participants and that's why we had to move the race forward next year," Kwan said.
A total of 73,201 participants entered this year's marathon, half-marathon, 10-kilometre and wheelchair races, but only 65,000 turned up on the day.
Top men's runner Stefano Passarello welcomed the date change.
"I firmly believe that weather will be a great factor and timing will get better. I would expect to shave off at least three minutes from my time with a five degrees Celsius difference," he said.
But Richards added: "Unlike many runners, I prefer slightly warmer conditions, by this I mean 10 to 20 degrees Celsius.
"For this year's race in February, I wore gloves and tights because it was still a little cold for me.
"Given also that the race starts so early, it could be really unpleasant to run. A 5.30am start and really cold conditions is not something I am keen to do."