Clutching gigantic pens designed to look like chunks of cheese, six men in sober business suits and one dressed as a rat stand poised, ready to connect dots on a board.
They are helping to launch this year's edition of the Central Rat Race, a fancy dress fun run with a serious purpose: to raise money for Mindset, a charity supporting mental health projects in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
The race, on October 19, will see teams of corporate employees dress up in extravagant costumes and navigate an obstacle course that symbolises the challenges of the business world. Registration opened yesterday, and up to 60 teams can enrol for the event, now in its ninth year.
"The race has always been fun-filled, based on challenges that executives face on a day-to-day basis," said John Witt, chief financial officer of Rat Race organiser Hongkong Land.
This year's race will feature a numbers game that requires participants to ride the elevators in Prince's Building and Alexandra House before solving a Sudoku puzzle. Participants will also have to try their hand at drawing using the gigantic pens - like those shown at the launch. Witt says the pen challenge will take teamwork.
The event incorporates four races: the team relay Rat Race, the Big Rat Race for senior executives, the NGO Rat Race and the Junior Rat Race.
Mindset chairman Ben Keswick said the money raised would go on projects that focused on mental health education, preventative measures and reintegration of patients.
He cited the "Health in Mind" programme, which raises awareness of mental health issues among teenagers. It has reached 100,000 pupils, teachers and parents at 29 secondary schools.
"Mental health has been, historically, underfunded and misunderstood in Hong Kong," Keswick said. "Stigma and misunderstanding remain real barriers to our progress."
About 460 employees from 52 companies raised HK$3 million in last year's race. Some 3,500 people have participated in the event since its 2006 debut.
The Post is a media partner for the Central Rat Race.