'Hare' caught in surreal moment leading Africans in marathon
Communications manager Adrian Lowther, 32, led a pack of 20-odd lanky Africans
Not many people can claim to have outrun an African. But for the first eight kilometres of the marathon, Adrian Lowther experienced the rare feeling of leading the elite field, comprising mainly Kenyans and Ethiopians.
At least 200 metres ahead of the leading pack of 20-odd lanky and dark-skinned runners was 32-year-old Lowther - 173cm tall, blonde hair, blue eyes and a surprising marathon hero.
"It was slightly surreal," said Lowther, a communications manager.
"I kept wondering why they weren't running faster and when they were going to overtake me."
Lowther, who moved to Hong Kong from Britain last year, entered the marathon with every intention of running, but changed his mind after securing an entry in this weekend's Tokyo Marathon.
"Tokyo is a better course for me. It will have more strength in depth and more people at my pace," he says.
He eventually opted to run yesterday, using the race as a "hard and fast" warm-up before his attempt at a sub-2:30 next week.
"I just thought I'd start and planned to drop out at about 10 kilometres," he said. "I never thought, for one second, that I'd be in the lead for most of that.
"I looked at the pace the [front runners] would be running at that point and thought I was going to be about six or 10 seconds behind them per kilometre. I planned just to run behind them quietly and then make my exit, unnoticed."
Clocking "around 3:23 to 3:25 minutes per kilometre", he unexpectedly found himself in the lead for the first eight kilometres until he was swallowed by the pack of gazelle-like runners.
"I thought they should be running around 3:15 to 3:17 [minutes per kilometre] at that stage, but they obviously started slowly. I kept thinking, if they were looking for a 2-hour, 12-minute marathon or thereabouts they should have been in front of where I was running."
Marathon runners are known to employ various tactics: "pace runners" or "rabbits" often lead the field, set the pace and eventually fade away.
Or, like Lowther, some simply run races for training, as Mo Farah famously did in the 2013 London Marathon when he dropped out at halfway.
"I wouldn't have done it if I'd thought I was going to lead, but I genuinely thought I was going to be 30th or 40th in the field."
He eventually dropped out at nine kilometres at Tsing Yi and caught the train back to Causeway Bay to watch the finish.