The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which started in 1997 with only 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 are featuring one inspirational local runner each week until the race on February 16. If it hadn't been for his sport, Chan Ka-ho might have become a gangster, says Hong Kong's top middle distance runner. Running also set him on the path of his passion - teaching.
Chan, 29, splits his time between running and teaching at the Hong Kong College of Technology, coaching the next generation of athletes. He holds the Hong Kong record for the fastest 3,000 metres (eight minutes, 50 seconds) and is returning to the Hong Kong Marathon's 10 kilometre race next year looking for a win.
I run every day, from Monday to Sunday. I coach young runners and I will always make sure I train myself before class begins.
Running is like breathing to me. I have a motto: "If I don't run a day, I don't have rice that day." When I don't run, I have to eat other food instead of rice.
My day is not complete without my daily run from my home in Tai Po to the Pak Shek Kok Promenade, where I can view the Tolo Harbour and Ma On Shan. I find running along the promenade relaxes me.
My earliest memory of running was as a 14-year-old. I loved to play soccer, but I started running and found myself winning at school competitions. After that, I had such a sense of pride that I continued running.
My best running experience was when I beat Japanese [runner] Motoharu Fukunaga by less than a second for first place in the half-marathon event in 2008. In the last 100 metres we were jostling for first place and finally I ran ahead of him in the final metres. It was thrilling.
I run for the sense of satisfaction I get after a long race. At first I ran to represent my school, then my club and finally to represent Hong Kong. I really hope I can continue to represent Hong Kong in other races.
I am running the Hong Kong Marathon next year as I think it is a must for every Hong Kong runner. Also, I want the chance to step up onto the champion's rostrum again, while I'm still young, and able to win.
Achieving my goal will confirm my ability to myself. Last yearI was working full time while setting up a running club, which didn't allow me to train or rest as much and I didn't perform at my best. But if I don't win, I won't be too upset. Being able to run faster now than I could last year is an affirmation to myself.
If I didn't run, I would probably have become a gangster - my friends in high school were some bad guys. I would have been a normal person, struggling for my goal. But because of running, I have made good friends, gained a degree, and have a wonderful girlfriend. Now it's my goal to help youngsters who cannot find their goals. This is why I am a teacher now.