We Run HK: Rosamund Barker

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 8:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 8:48am

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 next year. To celebrate the city's passion for the sport, we'll be featuring one inspirational local runner each week until the race on February 16.

Once a runner at school, it would be years before Rosamund Barker would slip on her trainers again - this time to escape the stresses of her new home, Hong Kong.

She never dreamed that anything would come of running. But before long, she was pounding the streets of London, on her way to a personal best, then representing Hong Kong at the 2008 Singapore Marathon and finally placing third in her age group at the 2013 Tokyo Marathon.

For Barker, 47, running is about efficiency. On most days, the professional support lawyer and mother of three can be spotted dashing through Alexandra House, en route to Bowen Road for a lunchtime run or doing a morning session along South Lantau's trails.

She is proudly running next year's Hong Kong Marathon and continues to dream of one day cracking three hours in her favourite race.

I started running seriously when I was lucky enough to get a place through the ballot for the 2005 London Marathon. That gave me a goal to start some proper training. I followed a schedule and managed to finish the race in three hours, 35 minutes. I was far from satisfied. I knew I could have done better.

My best time is now three hours, 31 seconds. I've just never managed to fit enough training into my life to go faster. The sub-three-hour mark has eluded me. I don't mind, though. I know if I didn't have a job, a husband, three children and a dog, and could train as much as I liked, I am probably capable of it. But I do have all those things, so it's not likely to happen any time soon.

My most memorable running experience was representing Hong Kong in the Singapore Marathon in 2008. I felt incredibly proud wearing the red vest with the Bauhinia on it. Spending the weekend meeting athletes from other countries, in particular Ethiopia and Kenya, was fascinating and humbling.

I love running the marathon because it's tantalising. There are so many variables - training, injury, temperature and weather, how you sleep the night before, getting the pace right, to name but a few. If one thing goes wrong, it can ruin the whole race.

The expressions on people's faces as they cross the finishing line are unforgettable.

With the right training, almost everyone [can] do it and the sense of achievement is inestimable. At big international races, it's you and the fastest runners in the world competing. In how many sports does that happen?

When I race I am thinking about pace. Can I maintain this pace? Can I go a little faster? Can I overtake the person in front of me? Of course, I have had terrible races where I have been disappointed by the result, but you need to have the bad races to make the good ones meaningful and special.

I am running next year's Hong Kong Marathon as a warm-up race for the 2014 London Marathon. I like road races and the Hong Kong race, being in my hometown, is a personal one. I drive through the Western Harbour Tunnel on a regular basis and think it is fun to run through it.

My first thought as I cross the finish line will depend on how I do. But I'm always delighted when it's over.

If I didn't run, I would be less of a running bore. No, seriously, if I didn't run I would find some other sport, but it wouldn't be as much fun.