We Run HK: 10-kilometre enthusiast Charlotte Cutler the comeback trail
The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which started in 1997 with a humble collection of 1,000 runners, has grown into a running festival for the city, with 73,000 racers expected to take part in next year's event. To celebrate the city's passion for the sport, we'll be featuring one inspirational local runner each week until the February 16 race.
Most runners probably wouldn't recognise Charlotte Cutler from the front. The 40-year-old managing director of a strategic risk advisory firm is one of the city's fastest women, with a 10 kilometre personal best of 37 minutes, 56 seconds.
Winner of the 10 kilometre women's race at the 2007 Hong Kong Marathon, and runner-up every year she's competed since then, the Italia Running Club member is looking forward to competing next year after giving birth to her second son in February.
I started running when I was 13. My sports teacher encouraged me to join the local athletics club. We used to train three times a week on a dirty, old cinder track, which became a sea of mud when it rained. I carried on training and competing throughout school and university and have continued to this day, 27 years on, training year-round and competing regularly.
My favourite run is around Central Park in New York. I lived there for three years and must have run around Central Park hundreds of times; in snow, rain, sleet, and sun. Whatever the weather, whatever the day, whatever the time, you will always find dozens of other runners doing just the same thing. You can never be lonely running in Central Park.
My most memorable running experience was taking part in the 1993 Oxford and Cambridge versus Harvard and Yale athletics match - the world's oldest international athletics fixture, dating back to 1894. I was studying at Cambridge and competing for their athletics club, which, combined with Oxford's club, had not beaten Harvard and Yale for over 30 years. It was held at Harvard University's athletics track and was an incredible day of athletics. I managed to win the 400 metres hurdles, in which I set a personal best, and our Cambridge/Oxford team won the 4x400 metres relay by the narrowest of margins, thereby securing victory. They've not beaten Harvard and Yale since.
I fit running into my life around a 2½-year-old and an eight-month-old, while also juggling work. There are certain times of the week known as when 'Mummy goes running'. Other days I find I have to squeeze in a training session or a run whenever I can, be it the half-hour gap between the boys' tea and bath time or early in the morning. Having a sympathetic husband definitely helps.
I run because I can. A hard session will leave me gasping for air, and I can't honestly say I enjoy any step of a hard-fought race. But there's something about running which brings me back day after day. I ran throughout both my pregnancies - up to 39 weeks in each case - and found it made me stronger, both mentally and physically.
I am joining the Hong Kong Marathon because running is part of who I am, and I couldn't imagine not taking part in the city's biggest race. I've entered the SCM every year since I arrived here and have missed only two races, as I was nine months pregnant both times. I would love to go for a win, but I've just had 18 months off proper training because of pregnancy and injury, so it's going to be an uphill battle. At the least, I'd like to run a respectable time [in the 10 kilometres] - anything under 40 minutes, given my current level of fitness.
Winning would be fantastic, but I know that running isn't everything. Given that I'm starting almost from scratch, even making it to the finish line would be an achievement.
My first thought at the finish line will be "Thank God it's over".
If I didn't run I would go crazy. Just ask my husband.