Rain, slippery roads and the cold weather sent participation in the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon on Sunday to a 10-year low.
Organizers said only 83 percent of the 74,000 runners who registered for the annual event joined the race, Ming Pao Daily reported.
But runners gave a thumbs up to the new race route, which is more spacious than in the past. Organizers hope to adopt the same route again next year.
The International Association of Athletics Federations has upgraded the Hong Kong Marathon to Gold Label Road Races this year, the same level for such famous international races as the Boston Marathon.
William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the marathon management committee, said the participation rate is the lowest in 10 years, but understandable given the weather conditions.
The temperature during the marathon ranged from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius. Rain became heavy at around 7 a.m.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor started the marathon on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Some participants held signs that read “Where are the five missing publishers?” throughout the race to register their disappointment with how the government was handling the case of the disappearance of book distributor Lee Bo and his four associates.
At least 24 runners were sent to hospital during the race, while 834 received medical treatment.
Runner Christy Yiu Kit-ching, who will compete in the Rio Olympics this year, said it was rainy and windy in some portions of the race, making it hard for her to blink her eyes, although she enjoyed the straight and flat route on Nathan Road.
Next year’s marathon will be held on Feb. 12.
According to RTHK, Africans again dominated this year’s race.
Mike Mutai Kiprotich won the men’s race in a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 12 seconds, beating fellow Kenyan Lawrence Cherono by two seconds. The 2014 champion Feyera Gemeda of Ethiopia finished third.
Ethiopians dominated the women’s division. Haylay Gabreslasea Letebehan came first at 2 hours, 36 minutes and 51 seconds, beating Lemma Geda Ayelu by two seconds. Bizuayehu Gebireyes Ehite was third.
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