70,000 Runners Expected at Hong Kong Marathon on 21 January 2018

Runners get set to take off on the 21st annual Hong Kong Marathon in January 2017.

Discover Hong Kong

The 22nd annual Hong Kong Marathon will be held on Sunday 21 January 2018. Both the Marathon and Half Marathon will begin in Kowloon and end on Hong Kong Island, with runners crossing Victoria Harbour through the Western Harbour Tunnel.

The Hong Kong Marathon is an annual event, held in January or February each year. The popular footrace will be held on Sunday 21 January in 2018. It is one of the largest scale sporting events of the year in Hong Kong.

The marathon will follow the same 42.196-kilometre route in 2018 that it followed in 2017. The route, however, has changed many times over the years.

Organizers have set a limit of 74,000 runners for the marathon, but hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of enrollees usually fail to show up each year.

While many running enthusiasts wish the number of runners could be enlarged, event organizers say that obstacles stand in the way of staging a larger event.

One of the key challenges would be coming up with a longer route that could accommodate more runners.

World’s Top 10 Running Events

The 2017 Hong Kong Marathon was the seventh largest running event ever held in terms of the number of participants, attracting 74,000 runners.

A list of the 10 largest running events ever held follows …

  1. A Run for the Pasic River –  116,086, Manila, Philipines, 10 October 2010.
  2. Bay to Breakers – 110,000, San Francisco, California, 18 May 1986.
  3. Cursa El Corte Ingles – 109,457, Barcelona, Spain, 5 June 1994.
  4. Broloppet – 92,266, Malmo, Sweden/Copenhagen, Denmark, 12 June 2000.
  5. City2Surf – 86,696, Sydney, Australia, 14 August 2011.
  6. Dam tot Daloop – 74,020, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 20 September 2009.
  7. Hong Kong Marathon – 73,070, Hong Kong, 15 January 2015.
  8. Round the Bays – 70,000, Auckland, New Zealand, 10 March 2013.
  9. Lilac Bloomsday Run – 61,298, Spokane, Washington, 5 May 1996.
  10. United We Run – 60,000, Beirut, Lebanon, 10 April 2005.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Seven Events

A total of seven events will be held at this year’s marathon, targeted at different ability levels and demographics …

  • Marathon – a six-hour race beginning on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and ending in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. Includes a two-way trip across the Ting Kau Bridge in the New Territories and a one-way trip through the Western Harbour Tunnel.
  • Half Marathon – a three-hour race beginning on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and ending in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. Includes a one-way trip through the Western Harbour Tunnel.
  • 10 Km Race – a two-hour race from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Shau Kei Wan and back again along the Island Eastern Corridor on Hong Kong Island.
  • Youth Dash – 30-minute race from Victoria Park to Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island to Shau Tau Kok and back again along the Island Eastern Corridor on Hong Kong Island.
  • Family Run – a one-hour race from the Wanchai Sports Ground to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.
  • 10 Km Wheelchair Race – a 50-minute race from Victoria Park to Fortress Hill by way of Shau Kei Wan, making a round-trip along the Island Eastern Corridor on Hong Kong Island.
  • 3 Km Wheelchair Race – a 30-minute race from the Wanchai Sports Ground to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.

Prize Money

Men’s and women’s overall top 10 finishers will  will receive equal amounts of cash prizes:

  1. US$65,000
  2. US$30,000
  3. US$15,000
  4. US$10,000
  5. US$6,000
  6. US$3,000
  7. US$2,000
  8. US$1,600
  9. US$1,200
  10. US$1,000

Smaller amounts will be awarded to the top 15 finishers that are registered with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association.

Marathon History

The first Hong Kong Marathon was held in 1997, the year Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese sovereignty. It was staged as a cross-border race, departing from the Northern New Territories in Hong Kong and crossing the Hong Kong-China border into Shenzhen, China.

The race started in the Northern New Territories community of Sheung Shui and crossed the border at Huanggang into Shenzhen, a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of the Peoples’ Republic of China. More than 1,000 runners took part in the Hong Kong Marathon that year.

The following year, the marathon was held at the newly opened Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok on Lantau Island. Runners ran across the newly built Tsing Ma Bridge and continued onto the airport runway. More than 6,000 runners took part in 1998.

The marathon moved to the heart of the city in 1999, starting in Central on Hong Kong Island and finishing across Victoria Harbour at the Shamshuipo Sports Ground in Kowloon. The course of the race has changed several times throughout the years.

The number of participants broke the 10,000 threshold in 2001, and the numbers have been growing by leaps and bounds ever since, surpassing the 40,000 mark in 2008, 50,000 in 2009, 60,000 in 2015, and 70,000 in 2016.

The marathon was upgraded to IAAF Bronze Label status in 2012. It was further upgraded the following year to Silver Label status.

The marathon celebrated its 20th year in 2016, when it attracted nearly 74,000 running enthusiasts. It was upgraded to a Gold Label Road Race that year, with 16 Gold Label runners participating.

Special Challenges

Hong Kong’s humid climate and difficult course present special challenges for runners. As a result, finishing times tend to be slower than at other major running events.

I must say, I find it difficult to believe that the course in Hong Kong could be more difficult than the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco. It is, after all, mostly along level ground.

In terms of climate, runners in San Francisco can face blustery Arctic winds blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, which can considerably slow them down.

In terms of the course, the Bay to Breakers route includes a vary steep incline near Alamo Square. However, the course’s 12 kilometre length is far shorter than Hong Kong’s 41-plus kilometres.


Four race participants have died in the the Hong Kong Marathon since the event was founded in 1997.

A 52-year-old woman collapsed at the race in 2017 and went into cardiac arrest. She was taken to hospital, where she died.

There were a total of 852 injuries in the race that year, with 27 runners taken to hospital

A 24-year died after collapsing during the race in 2015. He suffered a heart attack. A 26-year-old died after collapsing in the 2012 race. The race’s first fatality occurred in 2006.

Weather Information

If you are planning to travel to Hong Kong for the marathon, January is the coldest month of the year, and it is also one of the driest months – both in terms of humidity and rainfall.

The average daily high is 18 degrees Centigrade, or 64  degrees Fahrenheit; the average low, 13 degrees Centigrade, 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in mind, however, that temperatures in Hong Kong do drop occasionally as low as 4 degrees Centigrade, or 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While that might not sound cold by North American or European standards, few buildings in Hong Kong have central heating.

The average number of days with rainfall is six, but rainfall is seldom heavy this time of year. The average amount of sunlight is five or six hours. Clear skies are more common in winter than during any other season.

The Hong Kong Marathon is organized by the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association. The footrace is sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.






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