THE Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon is portrayed as one of Thailand’s premier marathons. It’s a prestigious event which attracts over 33,000 local and international runners each year to the nation’s capital over the four race distances – 5km, 10km, 21.1km, and 42.2km.
However this year, runners are complaining on social media that the Bangkok half marathon course was not the standard 21.1km but 28kms this year. The 10km run course was also short, measuring at only 9.7kms on many runners’ GPS watches.
This is not the first time the half marathon course has been inaccurate. In 2013 during the Bangkok street protests the half marathon course was changed at the last minute, making the total distance only 19.7km. Most runners accepted this due to the abnormal events playing out in Bangkok at the time.
The barrage of criticism is coming primarily through Facebook and Instagram. Although most comments have taken the extra kilometres with a sense of humour – “the organizers raised the price and gave an extra 7kms free” – other comments attacked the organizers for their irresponsibility.
One comment said “wouldn’t they just be sued in other countries? That’s so dangerous and irresponsible”. Other comments were concerned about the stress some runners were put under running the extra distance and thinking it was only 21kms.
There were some witness reports that a number of runners needed serious medical attention.
— Laura Takenaka (@TakenakaLaura) November 16, 2015
#Bkkmarathon Many got injured, 21km turned to 27km. Water stations not sanitary. Not organized unlike other SCM abroad. Pissed runner.
— Hanah Manua (@HanahManua) November 15, 2015
One runner complained that there was also no signage along the course advising runners how far there was left to run, standard in international marathons. According to that runner, there was also no announcement made by organizers prior to the start.
Many complaints have also been made about lack of drinking water along the course and a shortage of toilet facilities.
The event is jointly organized by the National Jogging Association of Thailand and Amazing Field, a local event management company.
Amazing Field has come under previous criticism by some expatriate runners based in Thailand for their dual pricing policies. Expatriate runners are required to pay between 3-10 times the price that Thai national runners are required to pay to participate in any running or triathlon event organized by this company.
This has led to some expatriate runners boycotting companies like Amazing Field and running in events that don’t practice dual pricing policies.
This week, however, the blame is being put on Amazing Field. There is much frustration among runners who have travelled to the Bangkok Marathon and wanted to run their PB or personal best only to find the course 7kms longer than the standard distance.
Mr Kraisit Songkhram, CEO of Amazing Field, late on Monday afternoon apologised via Khaosod English to runners for the mistake. Amazing Field has offered to provide finisher T-shirts for every runner who finished the 27.6km course. However, according to comments made by runners, this may be too little too late.
The mistake appears to be that the wrong gate on the highway was opened for the runners to turn around, some 3.5km further on that it should have been. Who was actually responsible for this mishap is still unknown, whether it be highway authorities, police, or the organizers.
The Standard Chartered series of marathons has had a run of bad luck this year, as the Kuala Lumpur Marathon was cancelled last month due to haze, leaving many participants upset and angry.