Hong Kong is set to host its first large-scale race in more than a year this weekend
The HK50West-25k in Shing Mun on Sunday will be hosted by Action Asia Events, and the company’s director, Michael Maddess, said it comes with a number of requirements from the Hong Kong government. All participants, volunteers and staff must produce a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours of the race. Maddess said he is more than willing to meet all the requirements laid out, if it means trail running can return.
“We are prepared to go the extra mile in being very alert, wearing a mask at the start and finish and even the first 100 metres after a social-distanced start,” he said. “We expect the government to remain pretty strong on testing and tracking for the foreseeable future, so it’s probably best to get used to it. Once there is strong evidence that running events are run with discipline and in a safe manner meeting Covid requirements for all concerned, the pressure should ease somewhat, hopefully.”
Following the race on April 11 there will be a second one, the HK50-24k – Ultimate Champs Trail Run, which will take place on Hong Kong Island around Wong Nai Chung Gap on April 17. Both races are capped at 200 entries. Most professional sporting leagues around the world, including the NBA and the Premier League, require their players to get tested almost on a daily basis. The NBA requires a player to take two tests before each game, one the night before and one the morning of.
Countless local trail races have been either pushed back multiple times or cancelled outright, essentially flatlining the scene since last spring. Maddess said he is confident they can start putting on races and not have any issues.
“Speaking to others in the sports industry and reading the news, there has been little evidence of Covid-19 being transmitted in outdoor sporting environments and the risk has to be low,” he said.
Maddess said adhering to the requirements set out by the government is their first priority, and testing requirements are in line with other sporting events or leagues that have resumed. He said it is definitely a short window in which to produce a negative result.
“We have had a few runners ask if vaccinated runners can participate without testing, but we must follow the health requirements given to us before any possible relaxation on rules and when that happens is anyone’s guess as the latest news is herd immunity could take 12 months.”
After such a long lay-off, Maddess said getting back to action was such a blessing. Hong Kong was expected to log fewer than 10 cases on Tuesday, of which zero were untraceable.
“Mental health is so important as many of us live in tiny flats,” said Maddess about the importance of getting Hong Kong’s sport and recreation scene back up and running.
“Work life balance is crucial to one’s sanity and seeing so many Hongkongers becoming depressed, leading to poor decision making as a result, it’s a breath of fresh air getting at least two events off the ground as we want to prove running and hiking can be done in a safe way.”