Hong Kong runner Nicky Inge has been selected as a country captain for the Vitality Running World Cup, joining the likes of legendary Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill (UK) in their attempts to inspire their compatriots to run.

The Running World Cup is an online competition where runners complete their kilometres, then upload them to the event’s official website. The countries with the most kilometres, using a formula that takes into account population size and smartphone penetration, wins.

The first round takes place on March 5 (12am) to March 11 (23.59pm) with the top 14 teams going through, along with the two wild-card countries with the most runners, even if they don’t have the most kilometres. There will then be a series of knockout stages until the final in April. The dates for the latter rounds are yet to be announced.

The role of the country captains is to spread the word and get as many people running as possible.

“I’m an extrovert but I do enjoy running by myself,” Inge, 28, said. “I like listening to my own footsteps, my breathing, it clears my mind. In terms of balancing work and finding time for myself, I find so many benefits in running, so it’s natural for runners to try to encourage others to take it up.”

Inge only took up running three years ago after being a competitive golfer. But as she entered her first year as a qualified lawyer, golf was not enough of a stress relief.

“Running did it for me, it helped me professionally. Without it, I may have burnt out,” she said.

Inge understands that first-time runners might see seasoned athletes and worry they are not up to the task. But she assures them they can go slowly and they will still see the benefits. But for it to be a sustainable hobby, they cannot force themselves into runs they do not want to do. Enjoy the running and it will become a habit, she said.

“If I overtrain I feel unmotivated, but generally I run every day. It becomes part of your day. I get that runner’s high. I get irritated on the days I won’t run,” she said.

Inge is inspired by Amelia Boone, famous obstacle course racer, runner and in-house lawyer at Apple.

“She talks about her discipline. Even though work is busy, she’d run to work and do stair repeats with rocks in her bag. She optimises doing both – being very successful in work and her sporting achievements,” Inge said.

“She talks about stereotypes to do with being a woman. ‘Shouldn’t you focus on having kids?’ There isn’t that attitude in trail running in Hong Kong, but within more traditional families there is an attitude, ‘will boys like you so much if you run?’ ”

Now that Inge is taking on the public role of country captain to inspire others, she herself is becoming a role model.

“I consider role models people who are older, more experienced and have run for longer. But I am grateful if I am able to inspire people in whatever small or big way,” Inge said. “I don’t think any of us go out there thinking ‘let’s go out and inspire people to run’ but it becomes part of it.”

“I want to convey to people you don’t have to be an ex-college runner. You can pick it up, you can make the time but you have to want to do it.”