Hong Kong Marathon 2014: Introduction

The upcoming Standard Charter HK Marathon will begin registration for the full marathon on October 15th, half on the 22nd, 10km on the 29th and Wheelchair races on November 5th. Last year was a similar process with the marathon registration open up before the other races.

HK Marathon 2014 Registration

HK Marathon 2014 Registration

I’m very excited to try to register for it but at the same time, very anxious that I won’t get a spot. I already booked my ticket to SIN and so far planning to visit Singapore and Malaysia and then stop by HK for the marathon if i get a spot. In previous years, many people couldn’t get a spot as the race filled up quickly. From the forums I read, registration was open for about 10 hours local time before all the spots were taken up. Wheelchair entries were still up for a few hours longer until the following day when it was all full. I am definitely clearing my schedule for this registration. It opens at 7am local time, so thats October 14th 7pm for the East Coast. I put it in my gCalendar using Oct 15th, 7am Hong Kong time to confirm that it would be October 14th, 7pm here.

Here is a post I found about the hectic registration process for the 2013 race. It reminds me a lot of the Chicago Marathon 2013 registration process this year. Luckily, I got through. Hope I have the same luck for the HK Marathon.

http://runner9999-runforhealth.blogspot.com/2012/10/hong-kong-marathon-2013-registration.html

However, I managed to register for it early! I checked the site about 30 minutes before it opened and I was able to register for it. Check my previous post about the registration process: Hong Kong Marathon, I’m In!

Introduction

I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Brooklyn, NY about 23 years ago. I grew up there and consider English my primary language but I can still speak some Cantonese. I visited Hong Kong back in 2007 for about 10 days and saw most parts of the city. I would love to go back and run in the city I was born in.

The marathon itself has been around since 1981 and it wasn’t annual until it got Standard Charter Bank as a title sponsor in 1997. The course has changed a bit between the first race in 1981 and what the race is today. In 1997, there was only 1000 runners but in 2001, 10000 runners took part. There has been elite African runners at the Hong Kong Marathon every year since the relaunch.

The field for 2014 has been increased by only 1000 runners, which probably won’t be able to cope with the increased demand. The increase was for the full and half marathons. The field was increased by 5000 to 70k runners for the 2012 HK marathon race. The field limit was for the full, half, 10k and 5k. in 2013, there were about 12000 who started the marathon. By comparison, the Tokyo Marathon is limited to 35000 marathoners. Nonetheless, the HK marathon is still a big event. About 7k runners each year do not show up.

Race Details

So here is the marathon course for 2014. I believe it is the same as 2012 and 2013.

Hong Kong Marathon 2014 Route

Hong Kong Marathon 2014 Route

The course is deemed to be slightly difficult as there are a few elevation changes. The race starts in Tsim Sha Tsui (a mile from the Harbour) and then finishes up on Hong Kong Island right in downtown area. First, you go through the Cheung Tsing Tunnel, which is about 150 feet below the starting point. Then it is an out and back route on the Tsing Ma Bridge (~200 feet above), then down in the Nam Wan Tunnel, and then back up on the Stonecutter Bridge. Then there is one last tunnel back to Hong Kong Island on the Western Harbour Tunnel.

The race starts at 6:10am for runners under 4 hour finish, 6:40am for runners between 4 and 5 hour finish and 7:10am for runners with a finish longer than 5 hours. I could have signed up for the “Marathon Challenge” group but I didn’t want to wake up that early so I signed up for Marathon Run #1. The Marathon Challenge group sold out first within about an hour or so. Glad I didn’t take someone else’s spot.

Beware that they close the course at certain intervals so you need to make it to the cutoffs in time. They have certain points in the race where they will stop all runners and force them to leave the race by bus. There was one detailed review of the different cutoff times for a 5:30 limit back in 2011:

http://www.takbo.ph/2010/03/standard-chartered-hong-kong-marathon-my-2nd-full-marathon/

Here is another post talking about the race and cutoff times for the 2012 HK Marathon where the limit was raised to 6 hours:

http://runningfatboy.blogspot.com/2012/02/5-things-to-worry-about-hk-marathon.html

Based on a 7:15am start (calculated based on a 6 hour pace, may not be the exact minute of the official cutoff)
(Runningfatboy said the cutoff for the KM20 was 2hr 55 minutes so they must have rounded up for some of these cutoff times)

KM15: Turnaround at Tsing Ma Bridge – 128 minutes – 9:23am
KM20: Before Cheung Tsing Tunnel – 172 minutes – 10:07am
KM24: After the Cheung Tsing Tunnel – 206 minutes – 10:41am
KM34: Before Western Harbour Tunnel – 292 minutes – 12:07pm
KM37: After Western Harbour Tunnel – 317 minutes – 12:32pm
KM39: Crossing onto Hong Kong Island – 334 minutes – 12:49pm
KM41: Just before the finish – 351 minutes – 1:06pm

The race marshals will come out with nets and block the road. Talk about pressure.

I also don’t see the need to collect people at the 41KM mark. They’re so close, why bother? Just let them the extra 10-20 minutes to finish the race.

Packet Pickup

Here is the schedule for the packet pickup. Local participant pick it up the weekend before while overseas participants can pick it up the Friday/Saturday before the race. I am unsure if locals can pick it up the same weekend as the race. There is no race day packet pickup.

Local Participants Overseas Participants
Date for Collection 8 & 9 February 2014 14 & 15 February 2014
Time 9:30am To 7:00pm 10:00am To 5:00pm
Location Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Start/Finish Lines

The start is on Nathan Road close to Hotel Mira. You then take the left on Austin Road, and right on Canton Road. I would suspect the entire Nathan Road to the Harbour would be the corral area.


The finish is at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island:

Where to stay:

I am quite lucky as my mom’s old friend from her hometown runs a hostel of sorts one train station up from the start line! I remember staying there about six years ago.

If I were to stay at a hotel, I would pick Tsim Sha Tsui as its probably cheaper than staying on Hong Kong Island. The train in Hong Kong is very clean, efficient and fast so there is really no need to stay on the Island. The hours for the subway is 6am to 1am. If you were to stay on HK Island, you may need a taxi to get to the start. The only issue would be to get back to the hotel, shower, pack, and then head to the airport after the marathon.

It would be best to stay near the Jordan train station as it is the closest stop on Nathan road to the Airport Express and very close to the starting line. We took a taxi down the road to catch the train to the airport, which only takes 21 minutes according to the MTR website. It would be 24 minutes from Hong Kong Station on the main island. This way, you can walk to the start, then take the train back from Victoria Park back to the hotel, and then take a taxi over to the airport express to HKG. This would be my plan.

It only takes about 15 minutes to get to most places by the subway from Jordan. You can take the train a few stations north for Mong Kok (actually pronounced Wong Kok in Cantonese, I made that mistake and my wife never lets it go) or a few stations south to Hong Kong Island. It turned out to be a very central location.

Another option would be to stay on Hong Kong Island so i can walk back after the finish to pack and take the train from Hong Kong Island. However, I know that it would be more expensive. The city isn’t very big and as long as you are near a train line (Preferably the Red or Blue line), then you shouldn’t have much trouble getting to/from the start/finish lines.

Flights

There are many airlines that flies to Hong Kong. It is still somewhat an independent “country” so you do not need a visa to enter into the country if you have  US passport.

I had booked a cheap flight to Singapore that week. I am scheduled to fly out of SIN at 1am the day after the marathon, so plenty of time to get back. I have booked a business class ticket on an Malaysian Airlines A380 from KUL-HKG on Saturday and then a business class ticket on Cathay Pacific HKG-SIN. Both were booked with 20k Avios each, which is the same price as AA miles. However, Avios miles are a bit easier to come by. I will get AA to link the different flights to ensure I get taken care of in case of delays. This is one of the main reasons why I booked an Oneworld flight.

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