Beer run in Hong Kong to turn off tap on alcoholic drinks after government warning

It will no longer be handing out beers to participants during November 4 race after authorities point to potential health problems

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 11:54am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 11:56am

A drink-as-you-race running competition in Hong Kong will be turning off the tap on alcoholic drinks after receiving a warning from the city’s health authorities.

Organisers of the “Beer Run 2017”, which originally required participants to drink at least four cans of beer during the 1,600m race, announced the decision on Friday evening. They cited public worries over the potential health problems from drinking alcoholic drinks while running.

“The opposition is so strong that the execution [of the event] is affected,” said Andes Leung Pak-hang, chief executive officer and co-founder of event organiser RunOurCity. He declined to specify what the implications would be.

Hong Kong beer race requiring participants to drink a can every 400m draws criticism

The Beer Run will be held at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on November 4.

Earlier on Friday, Hong Kong’s Department of Health director Constance Chan Hon-yee said the department, along with three professional groups, had sent a letter to RunOurCity, calling on the social enterprise not to encourage drinking during the event or provide alcohol to runners.

Chan said drinking alcohol while running would increase the risk of falling and heat stroke, as doing so would affect the central nervous system and lead to higher risks of dehydration due to more urination.

The warnings and criticisms have forced RunOurCity to rearrange some details of the event’s operations, such as the length of the race. The new plan is expected to be announced as early as next week.

Leung, who previously expected the event to attract 3,000 to 5,000 participants, now declined to say whether the changes would lower the appeal of the run.

“It’s a pity that we failed to bring an international fun event to Hong Kong,” he said. “We decided to give way because our ultimate goal is to promote running.”

Last August, around 500 people each paid HK$250 to join the run – which included beer drinking – at night.

This year, individual participants must pay HK$348 each, while a relay team of four has to fork out HK$1,200 as part of enrolment fees.

Leung said the money raised by the event would go to groups offering assistance to the needy in Hong Kong and teenagers seeking work, but he added that the amount last year was “not much” and the organisers had managed to “just break even”.