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 month. 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.
Nothing gets in between Christina Kui and her running. Not even breast cancer. A month after undergoing surgery in 2011, the energetic Kui ran the Tokyo Marathon. If she'd run just 14 seconds faster than her four hour, 13 second finishing time, she would have qualified for the Boston Marathon.
It is not, however, results that motivate Kui, but the desire to keep moving. The executive assistant is taking part in the Hong Kong Marathon next month for the fifth time, when she'll run the half marathon. It may not be her best performance - she's been experiencing joint pain from a change in medication - but it certainly won't be her last.
Exercise, she claims, helps to speed up her recovery. She runs up to four times a week and swims every other day. Besides, she says, her running training is practical too. If she's late, she can run for the bus or ferry without breaking a sweat.
I actually enjoy swimming more than running. I have been swimming for some 20 years now, but I find distance running is an amazing skill to have. Plus, it keeps me very fit.
I took up running for the first time about 10 years ago when I signed up for the 2004 Ironman New Zealand in Taupo. I didn't even know what an Ironman was before I said "yes" to taking part. (It was a 3.8 kilometre swim, 180.2 kilometre cycle and a 42.2 kilometre run.)
To prepare, I signed up for my first marathon in Beijing at the end of 2003. I had no training plan and only ran for an hour or so on alternative days. My longest run was 21 kilometres along Bowen Road. Everyone said I would definitely get a DNF ["Did Not Finish"]. I ended up finishing in 4 hours, 35 minutes.
I've just started running on the trails recently. Last year I did the 48-kilometre Raleigh Challenge on the Wilson Trail. Trail running is completely different from road running. On the road you have to keep to a pace. In trail running, it's over different types of terrain at different speeds. It was not my first ultra-marathon though; I did the 65-kilometre Round the Island race in 2010.
I think my mind must be quite tough. I've heard that people always underestimate themselves. Of course, running can be painful, but if you set your mind to it you can get through it. Right after a race, or the next day, you may be in a bit of pain, but soon you'll forget about it and only remember the success.
Although I'm clear of cancer, my condition is really bad this year. I've changed my medication and it's been giving me some joint pain. So I signed up for the half-marathon hoping to whip myself into shape - it's given me something to focus on.
My first thought as I cross the finish line will likely be "I will run faster next time".
If I didn't try it I would never have known that I, too, can be a runner.