Hong Kong Marathon Might Ban Smartphones After Selfie-Taking Runners Cause Injuries

By Sanna Chu on September 17, 2013 4:37 PM EDT 0

Hong Kong marathon
Hong Kong marathon organizers are considering a smartphone ban after runners stopping to take selfies caused injuries in this year's race. (Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Marathon organizers in Hong Kong are considering banning smartphones, as common sense seems to elude some people. This year's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon in February was marred by unnecessary injuries when runners stopping to take pictures of themselves during the race resulted in "bloodied and bruised" bodies, the South China Morning Post reported. The possible mobile phone ban could affect next February's race.

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"The problem was that a number of runners were trying to take self-portrait pictures using their smartphones. What we are trying to do is to encourage people not to do that," Benjamin Hung-Pi-cheng, Standard Chartered's chief executive, told SCMP. "It not only endangers themselves but endangers a lot of people running behind them. We want people to apply a little bit of common sense and discipline."

Hung did not rule out the possibility of banning participants from carrying mobile phones. But said that it was up to the organizers. However, organizers seem to be opting for an anti-selfie campaign rather than ban smartphones.

 "It is almost impossible to ban competitors from bringing their mobile phones," William Ko, chairman of the marathon organizing committee, told AFP today. "What we've been trying to do is get the message across to take care of yourself and to take care of other runners." The organizers are using Facebook, television and radio to promote the anti-selfie message in the lead up to the next event on February 16.

For the actual race, officials will be holding up message boards to remind people not to take photos at the start, on the route or at the finish because it is dangerous, as this year's event demonstrated. In particular, a pile-up occurred at the start of the 10-kilometre race when a woman competitor dropped her phone as she was trying to take a picture. Other competitors were injured when they tripped over her as she bent to pick up her phone, including Hong Kong triathlete Joyce Cheung Ting-yan, who went on to win despite her fall.

Though no competitors seemed to have been severely hurt, no doubt countless people were severely annoyed. It's annoying enough being stuck behind or ran into by a distracted smartphone walker, imagine having to dodge distracted runners in a 26.2 mile race.

The annual Hong Kong marathon event, which started 18 years ago and is sponsored by Standard Chartered bank, includes half-marathon and 10-kilometre competitions as well as a full 26.2 mile marathon race. The SCMP reported that next year will see 1,000 more people taking part, bringing the number of starting runners on February 16 to 73,000. In a bid to attract top runners from overseas, prize money for the marathon has been increased to US $300,000 from US $258,400.

Do you think smartphones should be banned from marathons if runners can't stop themselves from taking selfies? Let us know in the comments.

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