The look of satisfaction on Galant Ng Ka-lun's face as he crossed the finish line was one of pure satisfaction. He had just completed his first Mizuno Hong Kong Half Marathon, which yesterday celebrated its 20th anniversary with a record field of 3,000 runners.
Ng wasn't much interested in his time; he was simply glad to be enjoying the freedom of running and the feel of the warm sunshine that appeared part way through the 21.1-kilometre run. Ng is blind.
"I only took up running three years ago and now I train three times a week and try to race every weekend," said Ng, 32, who lives in Shek Kip Mei and described his job as a rehabilitation worker.
"I joined the Furious Dragon running club and now have lots of friends in the running community," he added.
Ng was one of more than a dozen unsighted runners competing at Tai Mei Tuk yesterday and was guided over the undulating Bride's Pool Road course by sighted runner Michael Ng, a 39-year-old civil servant.
"We actually make an interesting pair because I'm blind and he's deaf," added Galant Ng, who lost his sight when he was 20.
"We've been running as a pair for more than two years now, and our next major race will be the Standard Chartered Marathon, which will be our sixth full marathon. Our best time so far is four hours and two minutes, so we'll be looking to break four hours next month."
Michelle Lowry made a successful defence of the title she won here last year over a slightly different course, but had to work hard every step of the way to deny victory to arch-rival Yiu Kit-ching.
The pair ran in lock-step until the 11-kilometre mark when Lowry took command of the race.
"I always race better when Kit-ching is in the field because she's such a tactical runner," said Lowry, 35. "She puts in surges of pace at the right time, and it would be very easy to get left behind if I lost concentration."
Yiu, 24, ran a personal best time of 1:20:28 yesterday, but this was 18 seconds slower than the American runner.
Lowry is targeting a good performance in the Standard Chartered Marathon, which she will use as a stepping stone for the Boston Marathon in April, and went straight out to run another eight kilometres in training immediately after crossing the finish line.
In the men's race, Chan Ka-ho took the lead from Darren Benson and Wun Yiu-cheong at the four-kilometre mark at the start of the long climb up to Wu Kau Tang, and managed to hold the advantage all the way to the finish line on Plover Cove Dam.
Chan, 28, from nearby Tai Po was expecting a challenge from Thomas Kiprotich and training partner Gi Ka-man, but neither showed on the start line.
"I didn't plan to race it like that - I just felt good and full of running when we started the second long climb, and so I took the lead and held on for the win," said Chan, who last won the prestigious Mizuno title in 2011, and clocked a fairly modest 1:13:24 for yesterday's win.
Wun upped the pace on the second crossing of Plover Cove Dam to finish in 1:14:09, while Benson took third in 1:14:36.