FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hong Kong Marathon Sunday
If further proof were needed about the burgeoning interest in distance
running, consider the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon this Sunday
(February 20). For in a week when China became the world's second largest
economy, little brother is setting records of its own.
Created a recently as 1997, just prior to the British handover of the
former colony, the race was run from Kowloon (Hong Kong) into the mainland
city of Shenzhen, with fewer than a thousand competitors. This year's 15th
edition, entirely within Hong Kong, will feature around 65,000 runners in
three events, 10k, half-marathon, and marathon, with the last expected to
top 10,000 starters for the first time in its short history.
The majority of contestants are taking the sensible step of starting with
the 10k (37,000 entries), since the additional occasional hardship has been
higher than expected temperatures, and humidity. And the marathoners also
have the considerable barrier of the Western Harbour tunnel to negotiate
towards the end of their race.
Nevertheless, the men's course record is a respectable 2.14.57, in 2009, by
two-time winner Cyprian Kiogora of Kenya, who returns this weekend, seeking
a hat-trick; the women's record belongs to Dai Yan Yan of China, who ran
2.34.41 in 2005.
Local knowledge will serve both Kiogora and another former winner John
Tubei well, but fastest man in the field is another colleague, Raymond
Kiplagat, who ran 2.09.23 in Barcelona last year. There are three more
sub-2.11 men, Nelson Rotich and Philemon Kemboi of Kenya, and Tesfaye Girma
Veteran Lyubov Denisova of Russia, a winner twice in Los Angeles, and once
in Honolulu returns as fastest woman with her 2.25.18, from third in New
York in 2004. But the young Ethiopian trio of Meseret Legesse, Nagash
Letay, and Serkalem Abraha, all of whom have run just over 2.30, along with
Zheng Wenrong of China (2.33.29) will challenge for victory, and a share of
the US$150,000 prize pot.
This weekend's weather promises to be far more temperate, the mercury
rising from an early morning 12C, when the race begins, to around 16C by
the 09.30 finish. And to offset the stretch through the tunnel, the early
stages of the marathon go out and back over the spectacular Tsing Ma
suspension bridge, which has a 2.2 kilometres span. The race begins in
Kowloon, and after negotiating the bridge and tunnel, ends in Victoria Park
on Hong Kong island.