The Normal Chartered Hong Kong Marathon ought to introduce older age group classes, numerous veteran runners have mentioned.
Because it stands, there are 4 age group classes and the oldest is 45 years and above, generally known as Masters Two – which athletes have nicknamed “45 to demise”.
“It’s irritating,” mentioned Janine Canham, 54, who got here eighth within the Masters Two this yr however looks like there’s a nice drawback to runners competing towards individuals many years youthful than them. “There appears to be no rationale behind it. You simply wish to see the place you got here. It’s not a pity trophy, it’s simply an equal competitors.”
The Hong Kong Marathon, organised by the Hong Kong Newbie Athletics Affiliation (HKAAA), is an anomaly amongst its equivalents in different main cities. The New York marathon has five-year age teams proper as much as 79 after which a 10-year bracket for 80-89. The London Marathon’s oldest class is 80 years and above.
Veteran runners in Hong Kong fear that with out an acceptable class, runners might select not to participate.
“It could be implausible in the event that they [the HKAAA] might encourage older individuals to run,” Canham mentioned. “We’re not making an attempt to criticise, we’re simply saying to them, and different race organisers, why not encourage older runners to maintain operating?”
Hong Kong has an ageing inhabitants and by 2064 35.9 per cent of Hongkongers will likely be 65 or older. However Gillian Castka, 62, believes town has a uniquely energetic older inhabitants.
“It’s implausible, in providing you with these five-year age gaps, it permits you to compete on a stage enjoying subject,” mentioned Castka, who ran marathons for Nice Britain within the 1980s and gained the Hong Kong half marathon in 2002.
Castka admitted the sector will not be so deep in Hong Kong, significantly for ladies, so maybe 10-year age teams after 40 could be extra acceptable.
“It [competing in age groups] does encourage you,” mentioned Castka, who works as a civil engineer. “There are lots of people, significantly girls, who come again to or uncover operating later in life, as soon as they’ve had their youngsters, and so they’ve had their profession.”
Colin Whittington, chairman for Athletics Veterans of Hong Kong (AVOHK), mentioned: “Individuals typically do it for the popularity, and it’s all about retaining individuals operating. I believe we must always do as a lot as we are able to do to maintain individuals operating. The HKAAA placed on an excellent 75,000 particular person occasion. [But] it’s most likely time for the Hong Kong Marathon to maneuver in keeping with different main marathons.”
Mo Devlin, 53, repeatedly wins his age group in path operating and pushes for the rostrum even within the general race. He mentioned he will get a psychological enhance from figuring out he can compete when he appears on the masters subject.
“I do know masters runners who choose and select races primarily based on their classes as a result of they really feel like they will get recognition for his or her efforts,” he mentioned. “It could be nice if the HKAAA no less than recognised the rising mass of runners older than 55.”
The HKAAA haven’t replied to the South China Morning Publish’s request for remark.
Frank Pilkington is perhaps 77, however he nonetheless competes in operating occasions and in racewalking. Nevertheless, he vowed by no means to run the Hong Kong Marathon once more after 2012 as a result of he was sick of the age groupings which left him feeling marginalised.
“It isn’t very good to run a marathon at 70 and know you’re competing towards a 50-year-old,” he mentioned. “You actually don’t need prizes at this age, you simply wish to know the place you come.”
Ageing joints and shifting hormones may make competing tougher for masters athletes, however the overriding consensus is that they want a stage enjoying subject and the HKAAA ought to play a job in encouraging individuals to remain energetic.
“Seventy is now not outdated,” Pilkington mentioned. “Life begins at 40? Garbage. Life begins a lot later than that. You simply must take care of your self and be wholesome.”
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