Runners unstoppable amid cut-off confusion

Top News | Cindy Wan 18 Feb 2019

About 30 runners in the half marathon challenge of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon failed to meet the new cut-off time - but they ignored instructions and continued running.

The organizer - the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association - had shortened the total running time of the half marathon from three hours to two hours and 25 minutes. It also added two additional cut-off points.

The association was heavily criticized for the last-minute amendment - announced just eight days before the event - as it caught runners off guard and left them with little time to train.

Just days before the race yesterday, runners were allowed to transfer to another category of the half marathon, where the new cut-off time did not apply.

A third of the runners - about 500 - made the jump. But among those who remained in the half marathon challenge, some failed to meet the new cut-off time.

And about 30 of them were stopped by race personnel at the second cut-off point. They waited for a while at the junction of Hung Hing Road and Marsh Road in Wan Chai at 7.45am before ignoring the instructions and breaking through the barricade line.

They were supposed to wait for a shuttle bus to ferry them away. The association's executive director, Dennis Ng Yu-ho, said race staff actually wanted to let them continue running after calculating their estimated finish time.

But the runners were "too impatient" and decided to keep on running, he said.

Meanwhile, 29 people were sent to hospital, with two being in serious condition and seven listed as stable.

A woman fainted after she reached the finish line in the 10-kilometer race and was taken unconscious to Ruttonjee Hospital. She regained consciousness later.

Twenty runners who suffered minor injuries were allowed to leave. Most of them twisted their ankle due to the slippery conditions or had difficulty breathing.

Around 64,700 runners took part in the races.

Amputee runner Davis Dai Kim-ping, who lost his right leg in a traffic accident when he was 11, finished the 10km run in one hour 43 minutes and 40 seconds.

Kenyan runner Barnabas Kiptum broke the men's record in the 42km full marathon by finishing in two hours nine minutes and 21 seconds.

Kiptum eclipsed the previous record of two hours 11 minutes and 27 seconds, set in 2012, by over two minutes.

He won US$65,000 (HK$507,000) plus a US$10,000 bonus.

Belarusian runner Volha Mazuronak won the same amount as she was crowned the winner in the women's full marathon, which she finished in two hours 26 minutes and 13 seconds.

Mazuronak broke the previous record of two hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds.

Long-distance runners Chan Ka-ho and Christy Yiu Kit-ching - a couple - finished the half marathon with flying colors, even though Chan recently recovered from a fever.

Chan was the second runner-up in the men's group, while Yiu triumphed in the women's race.

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