Runners in this year’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon should feel grateful because the organizers have chosen Nike, a beloved brand in the city, as the official apparel sponsor.
That’s great if it means getting better T-shirts with the unmistakable swoosh on them – but only if the size fits.
Unfortunately, most runners will be getting shirts that are bigger than their indicated size, making them more suitable for sleeping than running.
Indeed, organizers promise a “bigger” event, its 21st anniversary, this Sunday, except that many of the runners are not happy about it.
“I feel cheated,” one runner said.
His comment quickly spread on social media, and some even threatened to take the case to the Customs and Excise Department, citing a violation of Chapter 362 of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
The trouble started when runners who went to Victoria Park to pick up their marathon bags were asked to choose a T-shirt that is one size bigger than what is indicated on the label because the manufacturer had made the shirts smaller.
I could testify that the people in charge of distributing the marathon gear gave such an instruction to the runners; I was there with a family member last weekend.
Apparently, the “Dri-FIT” T-shirts were a bit more than fitting, and there was no time left to return them and get new supplies.
But the explanation from the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), the athletics governing body supervising the event, was very upsetting.
The organizer said there was a gap between the actual demand and the supply, which was based on past data on participation in the event.
Does that mean the HKAAA thought the 74,000 runners this year are one size bigger than last year?
Anyway, the official explanation was quite different from what we were told at Victoria Park.
Whether it was the mistake of Nike, the T-shirt sponsor, or the HKAAA, the organizer, remains a mystery.
Nobody seems willing to own up to the slip-up, despite its potential effect on the reputation of the sponsors Nike and StanChart.
And, of course, there’s no talk of return or refund.
To be fair, not everyone is complaining. A close friend of mine is happy about the blunder because he has gained weight since the last time he joined the marathon.
Whoever is responsible for the wrong T-shirt sizes may actually be prescient.
The temperature is expected to plunge to below 10 degrees Celsius on Sunday morning, and a bigger T-shirt size will allow the runner to have thicker underwear.
Besides, runners should be thrilled about using a Nike shirt, instead of having another one from Chinese sportswear maker Xtep, the previous years’ sponsor.
So enjoy your Nike T-shirt, whose size may not be ideal for running but is surely great when cuddling up in bed.
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