The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon started in 1997 with 1,000 runners and has grown into a running festival, with 73,000 people expected to take part in next year's event. To celebrate the city's passion for the marathon, we will feature one inspirational runner each week until the race on February 16. When Jonny Lai Hok-yan, 40, ran down the home straight of the 2004 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, he was just happy to be finishing and to get out of the unseasonably cold weather. But as he crossed the line and slowed to a walk, he found he had another reason to smile: he was the first Hong Kong man to finish. Lai has since established himself as one of the city's top runners, with a personal best of 2:28:38. It's difficult to believe he only started running 10 years ago. It started with a colleague's encouragement to take part in a fun run, where Lai blitzed the field. Training soon uncovered the extent of his talent and he's since gone on to represent Hong Kong, most recently at the 2013 Asian Marathon Championships. Lai will take part in next year's Hong Kong Marathon for the 12th time and wants to be the first local runner to cross the line yet again. Running is a part of the job. As a policeman, running is a part of my life. On a regular week, I will run for an hour on most days. Closer to a competition, I'll set myself a running schedule and run for three hours up to six days per week. Since I work shifts, I use all my free time to run. It's challenging, but it's worth it. Running is a necessity in my life. It develops my attention and endurance. I find being a better runner, I'm also able to perform well in my job, which gives me great satisfaction. My most memorable running experience was the 2004 Hong Kong Marathon, my third marathon. Because it was so cold, I ran hard to stay warm. Many of my friends and family were waiting for me at the finish. I was so touched and arrived feeling great. To my surprise, I discovered I was the first Hong Kong finisher. It was a memorable day. I am taking part in the 2014 Hong Kong Marathon as I enjoy being part of the largest running event in the city. The atmosphere, runners and environment give me so much joy and I find that really powers me to run. Above all, I enjoy running in my own backyard as a Hong Kong person. I run because I want to prove to the youngsters that age is not a limitation in running. Although I am 40 now, I still run and can run well. I want to encourage people around me, like friends, families, colleagues and other Hong Kong people to run for their own reasons. My first thought when I cross the finish line will be how can I improve and run better next time. There's always room for improvement. If I didn't run, I would still be a "small potato" in my work, and probably not want for more. Running makes me think of my goals in life. No pain, no gain.