LISA Hintz was having the run of her life. At the mid-way point in the 17th annual Mount Butler race last Sunday morning, the marathoner was the first woman out of 160 participants. ''A bullet in white'' is how one bystander described the lanky American. ''I was feeling great,'' said Hintz. ''I was miles ahead of everyone and really enjoying myself.'' But her good time ended before the race did. She remembers arriving at the finish line in a taxi. Hintz fainted during the last quarter of the 15-kilometre race and was revived and assisted by several competitors into a taxi. She isn't sure what happened. Or why. But she's feeling fine these days, though a bit embarrassed. ''Friends teased me and said I wouldn't have fainted if I wore cooler clothes.'' She picked the voluminous white cotton tee-shirt over knee-length white stretch pants for comfort. Shorts are out. ''When I was 22, my legs looked better in them than they do now.'' The 29-year old former competitive rower never spends money on running clothes. ''That's the best thing about winning races, getting the gift certificates. ''Next year, maybe I'll try shorts.'' Though the colour of your running gear or the cut of the singlet or shorts don't promise a peak performance, most runners agree what you wear affects the mind. And feeling good can give some a competitive edge. What runners wear for a race is never a spontaneous decision. Sue Ross was in second place behind Lisa Hintz. After Ross helped the stricken runner into a taxi, she continued the course and won first place in the women's category. Every detail of her outfit - the wrap-around sunglasses, the stretch crop top and high cut shorts - was designed from experience. The glasses protect her contact lens from dust and abate an eye problem, a sensitivity to light. The top and shorts weigh next to nothing, wick perspiration and afford maximum freedom and comfort. Ross was in top form, physically and mentally. ''I haven't been in this good running shape since 1986,'' says the New Zealand-born engineer. The Mount Butler race was a come-back event for her. She was sidelined for ten months due to a back problem. ''Clothes do make a difference. Picking what to wear is similar to picking your shoes. You've got the heavy training shoes and your racing lights. ''When I put on my racing lights, they put me in the mode for racing. Clothing is a continuation of that.'' Lily Franada can trace her running career in snapshots. ''I've worn the same white cotton shorts since 1987,'' says the member of Hongkong Ladies Road Runners Club. ''I save them for races only. They're comfortable, light and feel good.'' But during the week she wears long cotton pants. Though they protect her knees, they have a negative effect. ''They make me feel slower.'' John Lane's running wardrobe comes from his club, Athletic Veterans of Hongkong (AVOHK). But when it comes to races and feeling fast, less is more. Lane adopted the no tee-shirt look for the Mount Butler race. Runners' greatest expense is shoes. A pair averages between $400 and $500. Lane and Ross go through two pairs a year. ''Shoes wear out faster here,'' continues Lane. ''They rot from the sweat. The uppers, not the soles.'' For hot, sunny days, Lane wears a hat, something with a long brim and flaps on the back to protect the neck. Since he lost his two favourite hats, he fashions one by pinning a handkerchief to the rear of the cap, ''like the Japanese soldiers used to wear. When you go for a six-hour run on a sunny day, you need protection.'' Race distance determines what most runners wear. And for Charlotte Mitchell, so does body weight. Her pink singlet and shorts have been through 30 races. The hot, humid conditions dictated something sleeveless and non-sticking. The shorts are comfortable, loose and cut especially for women. ''Much of the time I have to buy men's shorts. They're the only thing available,'' she said.