What started off as a whim has turned into a consuming passion for Hong Kong's Michael Brown. The 56-year-old, who had not run in a marathon before he was 39, will tomorrow compete in his 100th. His passion developed by accident. Following a game of tennis with friends in 1980, someone suggested they compete in the then-approaching Macau Marathon. They trained for four months and each of them finished the race, Brown turning in a time of 3:29. Determined to see if he could do better, he posted 3:06 in the 1982 Hong Kong Marathon. The effort encouraged him to try to finish a race in under three hours. He did, but it took him 30 marathons to accomplish the feat. Since then, he has posted three sub three-hour times in races which have taken him to Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the United States - all at his own expense. His peak was 1988 when he ran in nine marathons. 'I have made a lot of good friends from marathons and I have also met some complete lunatics. I met one old Canadian in 1991 who had already run in 400 marathons. I have noticed it is the slower runners who go for quantity rather than quality,' he said. 'I have met many people who are interested in coming to Hong Kong to run in this marathon and the China Coast Marathon. This one seems to attract quite a lot of people because of the relatively flat course.' Brown, who loses as much as three kilograms a race, is not so much trying to win a race these days as to complete it in a given time. He said he ran 160 kilometres in training in the two weeks prior to a marathon. In his latest effort, he finished December's Macau Marathon in 4:00.50. 'Now it's all running from memory. Even in my declining years it requires a lot of self-discipline. I am very interested in starting in Chater Road. This is definitely something for the better.' Brown, who will be retiring next month after 21 years of government service, said the African runners would again be difficult to beat because of their high-altitude training. However, mainland runners were rapidly improving.