More first aid at the Hong Kong Marathon but runners warned to ‘listen to their body’ by race chief at launch of 2018 event
Three runners have died over the past six years but organisers brand pre-race screening too costly and impractical
Officials promised runners are in safe hands when they start in the Standard Chartered Marathon next Sunday but the most important thing is still to “listen to your body”, a top official said.
“There will be more medical staff along the route than last year and the number of first aid stations and automated external defibrillators (AED) will also increase,” said Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA) chairman Kwan Kee at the opening of the marathon carnival at Victoria Park on Saturday.
“But the most important thing is the runners must listen to their bodies. If they feel unwell during the race, they must stop and ask for help.
“We have spent a lot of resources on an educational programme, asking the participants to prepare for their races well and take care of their bodies so that they can enjoy the race.”
There were close to 800 medical staff for last year’s run and the number will increase for this year. The figure is to be decided at the midweek final briefing.
The organisers will also set up additional first aid stations near the finish where accidents always take place and there will be more AEDs, which have proved to be effective in critical moments.
“Many of the runners try harder approaching the finish, which is very dangerous as their bodies may not be able to sustain and that’s why the disasters always happen there,” said association chief executive Dennis Ng Yu-ho. “The AED has been used in many sporting events and we’ll get more this year to offer help when needed.”
Three runners have died over the past six years in the Hong Kong marathon. A 52-year-old runner died last year after competing in the 10-kilometre event when she collapsed approaching the finish. In 2015, Ng Cheuk-yue, 24, died in hospital hours after collapsing just 100 metres from the finish line of the 10km race. And a 26-year-old man died in 2012, moments after completing the half marathon.
The organisers said introducing screening processes to assess the health of participants was too costly and impractical and this practice was not used at any marathon event in other areas.
One of the highlights of the two-day carnival is the Used Shoes Donation Project where the HKAAA will collaborate with Benin Athletics Federation to donate used shoes for runners in need in the African country.
“We have gathered about 2,000 pairs of used shoes and hopefully can reach our target of 4,000 pairs by the end of the carnival before shipping them to Benin,” said Ng.