'Education' preferred to asking runners for race fitness history Organisers of next year's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon have scrapped a proposal to ensure runners are fit enough to endure the 42km race. The Hong Kong Medical Association has criticised the decision to ditch proposed entry rules requiring runners to supply details of previous experience, including participation in similar marathons. It said the dangers of jumping into the race without proper conditioning should be stressed to runners. One participant died in this year's race. Kwok Ka-ki, legislator for the medical sector, said application forms critically failed to ask whether an applicant suffered from chronic heart or respiratory illnesses. Veteran doctor Lo Wing-lok said organisers should warn people with these problems to check with their doctor before running. The application form failed to remind people of the risks of running a marathon, he said. But William Ko Wai-lim, chairman of race organiser the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, said the form was an inappropriate place for such advice, and that the association favoured education. 'We didn't think it was necessary. Everyone knows people should normally progress from shorter distances before doing the full marathon. We have all the records for all previous years, we can check them anytime. Asking people to declare this experience doesn't mean anything.' The 24-page form includes two sentences under a heading 'important notice', advising runners in general terms to undertake adequate training for the race and consult a doctor if in doubt about their health. But Hong Kong Medical Association vice-chairman Louis Shih Tai-cho said applicants should have to list experience at least in shorter races. 'It would be better if people should at least declare whether they have done this sort of thing before. It's a safety measure.' After the death of Tsang Kam-yin, 53, who collapsed 13km into the marathon in February, officials from several government departments met with the athletic association to determine if poor air quality conditions on race day played a part. A report was submitted to the government in March recommending that the organiser consider asking full-marathon runners to submit details of participation in similar races. But Mr Ko said the association decided against this. He said it would soon launch educational programmes, including training clinics and workshops. The association said 12,000 people had already signed up for next year's race - which has half-marathon and 10km subdivisions - 25 per cent more than this time last year. A record 45,000 are expected to run next March, 7,500 of whom will run the full, 42km marathon. A government spokeswoman said it respected the organiser's decision, and was pleased to see that an effort would be made to increase education.