On a quick blast of the horn yesterday, six male runners dashed along the 100-metre course down Stanley Main Street, doing their bit for raising awareness about breast cancer. But it was no ordinary feat - they were sprinting in bright pink high heels.
More than 200 men and women ran, tottered and tripped down the busy road, which was coloured pink for the day, in response to an appeal for fuunds by the Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry.
For the first heat, most of the half-dozen male runners wore wigs or costumes. There was an Arabian princess, a pink Spongebob Squarepants cartoon figure and a giant baby - all wearing high heels, of course.
The winner in that race, and of the overall men's category was Ian Chung, a 30-something IT worker, who made it across the finishing line in less than 13 seconds. He joined the race in memory of his mother.
"My mother died from breast cancer," he said. "Both my aunt and my cousin have it, but only my mother died from it."
The registry, founded in 2007, is geared towards families like Chung's, whose medical history may indicate the presence of a mutated gene that heightens the risk of cancer. Testing the first family member for this gene - usually the cancer patient - costs between HK$18,000 to HK$25,000 because the entire gene must first be mapped out. Tests on other family members cost about HK$3,000.
Yesterday's Race with Pink Heels aimed to raise funds so that underprivileged women can afford to take these tests.
The mutated gene that makes breast cancer more likely may also increase the risk of prostate cancer in men.
According to the US National Cancer Institute, the risk of breast cancer in the world population is 12 per cent, while those who are positive for the mutation carry a 60 per cent risk.
Dr Ava Kwong Hoi-wai, chairwoman of the registry and chief of Queen Mary Hospital's breast surgery division, says the risk of breast cancer linked to the mutated gene rises equally for both men and women.
Kwong says certain European populations are more susceptible to the mutation, but its prevalence and impact are not well understood in Chinese populations
The breast cancer family registry is trying to address this gap through research, testing and providing support for high-risk patients.