Mental health charity Mindset gets set for annual Central Rat Race fundraiser

Wind tunnel and giant shoes all part of race to raise money for mental illness causes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 5:25am

The stigma surrounding mental illness is a persistent problem and it will take a long time to get rid of it, says Hongkong Land chief executive Pang Yiu-kai.

He was speaking at the launch of the Central Rat Race, which will be run on October 20 to raise funds for Mindset, a charity that supports mental health organisations and projects in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

Pang, whose company is organising the race, said: "[Mental illness] is just like any other illness. It's like having a cold, a cough or the flu," adding that people should not look at it any differently.

Also at the launch, at the Rotunda in Exchange Square, Mindset chairman Ben Keswick said the stigma still had to be overcome.

"Education is one of the key areas we're trying to [work in]," Keswick said. "We're trying to get out to our younger communities through schools to try and educate them about some of the issues around mental illness."

The annual Rat Race allows altruistic types in the corporate world to let their hair down and don outrageous costumes to raise money for mental illness causes.

Pang said it shows players in the business arena can enjoy the funny side of life by not "taking ourselves too seriously".

The race is now in its eighth year, and dozens of teams and hundreds of amateur athletes will compete for the Rat Race Cup, its highest honour. Newcomers are always welcome, and veterans will find this year's course has a new twist: a wind tunnel in the latter stages of the race. If the wind doesn't blow racers off course, they'll have to try not to trip up in oversized shoes running through Jardine House to Chater Road, and they'll need to be sure-footed for a giant obstacle course in the race to the finish.

Last year's Rat Race drew 460 participants and 55 teams, with Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing taking first place. The race raised a total of HK$2.65 million for Mindset.

The Post is a media partner for the Central Rat Race.