The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which started in 1997 with a humble 1,000 runners, has grown into a running festival for the city, with 73,000 racers expected to take part next year. To celebrate the city's passion for the sport, we will be featuring one inspirational local runner each week until the race on February 16.
How important is a measly one minute, 24 seconds? For marathon runner Adrian Lowther, it's everything. It's the driving force behind his tireless regime of early morning runs, triple-digit training weeks and gut-wrenching speed sessions in pursuit of the elusive sub-two-hour, 30 minute marathon. (His current personal best is 2:31:24).
Lowther, 32, has been running daily for more than two decades, ever since setting off on his first five-kilometre fun run at the age of eight. Despite being the smallest competitor, he finished ahead of all his peers - and most of the adults, too. He's been having the same impact ever since, making his mark at track, road and field events across Britain at a national level.
His first move after arriving in Hong Kong earlier this year was - you guessed it - not to explore the sights, but join a running club. Lowther works as a communications manager at Cathay Pacific.
My life fits into my running. I train every day and often twice a day. This means before work and immediately after work. My weekly kilometre tally ranges from 90 to 175 kilometres over the course of a year, depending on what races I am prioritising.
My Monday night runs are my favourite. They are usually about 20 kilometres. I don't put any pressure on myself to reach a certain pace and just run how I feel. Sometimes they are quick; sometimes they're just an easy recovery from a hard weekend race. It's a perfect opportunity to set the tone for the week ahead.
I'll never forget standing next to the then marathon world record holder (and running legend) Paul Tergat at the start line of the 2007 London Marathon. Within seconds of the start he was gone and not to be seen by me again, of course. But for those few minutes before the start, he was in my race.
I have opted not to run the Hong Kong marathon next year as I have set myself the goal of running under two hours and 30 minutes. The course in Hong Kong isn't conducive to fast times and, in all honesty, you need people around you when trying to achieve this goal - at the Hong Kong marathon there just isn't the strength in depth (meaning a large number of fast runners) to be sure of this. I am therefore going to Tokyo a week later to take part in the Tokyo marathon and try to reach my goal. The course is fast and there are a number of fast runners competing. If I get my training right, I will have the best possible chance.
If I manage to run the elusive sub-2:30 marathon then I think I will be able to look back on my career and say that I achieved my potential. I believe - and some sports science lab tests have suggested - that I am physically capable of running a sub-2:30 marathon, but doing it is the hard part. I won't rest until I have.
If I am honest I would say I am not really sure why I run. I like to push myself and I want to achieve my potential. I have also been lucky with the friendships that I have made through running - runners are really good people and a great laugh. We try not to take it all too seriously.
My first thought as I cross the finish line will be "can I sit down now?"
If I didn't run, I would be hell to live with. But in all seriousness, I would probably become involved in coaching or the administration of the sport. I would like to help develop distance-running talent.