The China Coast Marathon: For the Veteran & the Young
Hong Kong is one of the popular Asian cities that was formerly a British colony. It connects to Mainland China on the north and the country’s legal system is independent of that of China. In fact, Hong Kong, although considered “Special Administrative Region of China” has one of the freest market economies in the world and attracts millions of people every year.
One of the attractions is marathon events. The running season in Hong Kong starts around October and ends in March. There are dozens of running events held during this time including the China Coast Marathon which will be on January 31 of 2016.
The China Coast Marathon
The China Coast Marathon, which is a road run, consists of 2 races: the marathon and the half marathon. Both will take place on January 31, 2016. This event is organized by the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong (AVOHK). AVOHK was established in 1982 and it concerns itself with 3 sports: cycling, swimming and running but they are known to focus most on running events and are in charge of 20 of the country’s running events.
The AVOHK is a member of the World Masters Athletics, the Asia Masters Athletics, the Association of International Marathons & Road Races, the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, and the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association. The China Coast Marathon is the flagship event of AVOHK.
The upcoming event will be headed by Race Director, Dave Smith. According to Smith, the China Coast Marathon is one of the events that encourages veteran athletes to compete by offering
“age groups in 5 year bands up to 75 years old, (which is) unlike other local races.”
The principal sponsor of the event is Gammon Construction, a huge Asian conglomerate that provides high quality infrastructure construction services.
A Brief History of China Coast Marathon
The first China Coast Marathon took place in 1981. It is the first AIMS certified marathon to be held in Hong Kong. The winner of the first China Coast Marathon was Ron Hill. When interviewed, Ron talked about the marathon as being the toughest he has run. Gammon Construction was part of the event from the first race up to today. The course has changed over the years but remains challenging and takes runners through some of the country’s amazing landmarks and scenery.
The race has always followed IAAF rules. The current record for the marathon is 2 hours:38 minutes and 44 seconds and this record is held by Kevin Ball who achieved this in 1989. As a point of reference, the record of Ron Hill, the first winner of the marathon was 2:34:35 but the course back then was not the same.
China Coast Marathon Course
The marathon and half marathon races will start and finish in Po Leung Kuk in Pak Tam Chung. Runners will have to run the course twice for the full marathon. Every participant is assigned a chip to be placed on the runner’s number bib. Water stations, medical stations and portalets (portable toilets) are strategically placed throughout the course.
Marathon participants get free sports drinks and fruits are given free to all runners. At the finish line, there are snacks for everyone and participants are allowed to use the Po Leung Kuk facilities, free of charge.
Finishers get a medal, souvenir, and a t-shirt. Top finishers in the men and women’s categories (under 40 and over 40) get trophies and other prizes. There is a special award given to the first veteran who is an AVOHK member to finish in the full marathon – the John Lane Tankard Award. Finishers can get a certificate of completion but will have to pay a small processing fee of HK$50 (US$6.45).
Only 600 runners will be accepted for the marathon and 1,900 runners for the half marathon. Participants have to be at least 18 years old and the categories for full marathon and half marathon are male/female:
- Open to those aged 18 to 34
- Seniors aged 35 to 39
- Veterans aged 40
- Veterans aged 45
- Veterans aged 50
- Veterans aged 55
- Veterans aged 60
- Veterans aged 65
- Veterans aged 75 and older
The races will start at 8 am at Pak Tam Chung. The typical weather in January in Hong Kong is partly cloudy or foggy with slight humidity. The wind speed is about 2 miles/hour. Runners are requested to be at the starting point early. Registration tables will open at 6 am. Participants will have to present their registration papers to collect their bib. There will be free bus rides to the starting point for participants who register online.
The races are held on service roads. There are multiple turns and hills plus a reservoir and dams to pass through. The course has been described as Y-shaped. Compared to the Hong Kong Marathon which is another running event in the city (January 17), the China Coast Marathon is less crowded and friendlier. The race will pass through Sai Kung Man Yee, Sai Kung Sai Wan roads before finishing back at Pak Tam Chung.
There is a time limit for the full marathon which is 6 hours. Participants who do not finish within this time will have not be allowed to finish as the course will be closed to runners starting 1 in the afternoon.
Marathon Fees and General Rules
The entrance fee is HK$400 or approximately US$51.60 if paid on or before December 14. After December 14, the fee increases by HK$100 or US$12.90. Entrance fees are non-refundable and AVOHK members get a HK$50 discount. Credit Card payment (Visa and Mastercard) are accepted for online registration but using credit card may incur 0.8% handling fee or HK$1 per transaction. Changes can be made on the registration but must be done on or before January 15.
If this is your first time to run the China Coast Marathon, know that there is another marathon held the day before this event, the Green Power Hike, a trail run. On the same day as the China Coast Marathon is the Community Chest Corporate Challenge which is a half marathon and 10km run is held. It might help to know this to prevent any confusion while in Hong Kong.
Online registration is recommended and can be done by clicking on these links: https://regonline.activeglobal.com/CCM2016 or
Feedback on The China Coast Marathon
Most of the feedback on this event is highly positive, even enthusiastic. Participants love the free water, bananas and oranges given to all runners and the way the event is run efficiently.
Runners do have to be a little careful about the taxis that drive alongside the runners. The view of the ocean while you are running is inspiring and the course is hilly which makes it imperative that one trains before joining this event.
This is not an event recommended for first-timers who have not trained for running on hilly courses but is an excellent thrill for those who enjoy the pleasure of running while viewing some of the country’s spectacular sights.