Chong Hiu-yeung ran in the Athens Classic Marathon in November, along the route Greek soldier Pheidippides took from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Persians' defeat in the Battle of Marathon 2,500 years ago.
Finishing the Athens race meant that Chong, a former journalist, had left his footprints on 10 marathons around the globe. Only 13 days before, he ran in the Dublin Marathon in Ireland.
Chong and other runners say it is the place that makes the marathon, whether it is competing for charity in Cambodia or jogging through the Western Tunnel in the city's event.
Like most local runners, Chong's original motivation was to keep fit and take a break from the pressures of work. But Chong was not satisfied by running just in Hong Kong. Driven by curiosity, he wanted to race in other marathons abroad.
In the past two years he has run along the coast of southern France, from Nice to Cannes; seen the midnight sun in Norway; passed Loch Ness (but didn't see any monster); and ran through Bordeaux past the major wine producers - where he tasted free wine, oysters and cheese prepared by local residents.
Unfortunately, Sunday's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon won't provide such experiences. Running abroad may have enriched his passion for other countries, but it has done little to deepen his love of running in Hong Kong.
"It is a good way of understanding a country and its culture by joining their marathons," he said. "I wouldn't have known how terrible our marathon was if I had never run overseas."
Chong said a marathon should be a city-wide event for every resident, an opportunity for local runners to see their city in the best possible light and an occasion to attract international runners. Unfortunately, Hong Kong's falls short on all counts, for him. "We have a world-class harbour; why can't we run along the harbourfront in Tsim Sha Shui and in the heart of Central? Why don't we run through the streets? Running a marathon here shouldn't mean we have to drag our already tired body through the Western Tunnel, climbing up roads and highways," he said.
That's not to say that everyone thinks like that about the Hong Kong Marathon. Some people over the past few weeks have even placed newspaper classified adverts offering to buy other competitors' race numbers. They missed the registration deadline so the only way they could compete this year was under someone else's name. It is against the rules, but just shows to what extent people will go when it comes to competing in Hong Kong.
Then there are the "ghost runners" - hardy souls who failed to meet the registration deadline but turn out to race anyway. They'll join in somewhere near the start and run the whole course before ducking out before the finish line, so officials do not notice that they have no racing number and are running illegally.
Once again it's against the rules and is normally frowned upon, but you can't say it is not in the spirit of the event. After all, when Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens he wasn't wearing a number, either.
But whatever the pros and cons of Hong Kong's race, the opportunity to run in different countries does bring with it an exotic dimension.
While Chong was travelling in various European countries and running in marathons, Natalie Chan also started her first attempt at running overseas. Chan likes sports, travel and charity work. She found a way to combine her interests by joining the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in Cambodia last December.
"I hadn't been to Angkor Wat before and I wanted to visit the place. So when I found out there was a chance to raise money for underprivileged children in Cambodia by joining a half marathon at Angkor Wat, I decided to take part," Chan said. She invited friends to sponsor her run and then made a donation to the charity - the Indochina Starfish Foundation.
It also proved to be a special travel experience. "If I did not join the race, the visit would only have been a regular travel experience, like seeing the tourist attractions, shopping, eating and having fun," she said. "This time I was running through the ruins, while hundreds of local children were standing along the route encouraging the runners.
"It gave me a sense that I was connected to the local people and the community, an experience a regular visitor would not have had."
Chan plans to return to do the half marathon this year. She also wants to spend more time in Cambodia to visit the children the charity supported.
The person who inspired her to take up running is Martin Cubbon.
Cubbon's biggest challenge was in 2006, when he ran in the world's driest desert while competing in the Atacama Crossing, a six-day, 250 kilometre footrace across the Atacama Desert in Chile.
More than three years after he joined the race, Cubbon still keeps a small Chilean flag in his office, which was given to him by a child who was cheering the runners on.
Competitors have to carry their own clothes, food and sleeping bag as they are running. Each day is a different race, ranging from running 10 kilometres one day to doing a double marathon on another.
After running for days in the stunning, barren landscape, on his last day Cubbon ran through a valley and entered the small town of San Pedro.
"I saw a beautiful little church, a typical town square and there were kids cheering the runners," he said. "I was able to get closer to the local people and had a strong bond with them, though I was a foreigner in their country.
"Because you're part of the race, the community makes you feel more welcomed."
But running for Cubbon is not only a romantic way of visiting a foreign country by participating in a special local event - he likes the competition as well.
"I like competing, setting a target, trying to achieve it and doing well in it," he said.
For many competitors in Sunday's Hong Kong Marathon, no matter how bad the scenery may be, whether you're a legitimate or a "ghost runner", the same will apply.
Marathon sponsor StanChart says decision on disabled competitors is down to race organiser
Hong Kong Marathon sponsors Standard Chartered Bank preferred to remain on the sidelines yesterday rather than get into the discussion over whether disabled athletes should be allowed to compete.
The Hong Kong Marathon has no category for wheelchair athletes and the organiser, Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association (HKAAA), has no intention of creating one for this year's event on Sunday, despite the fact that local endurance wheelchair athletes like Ajmal Samuel are well capable of taking part.
At the marathon's 2010 expo opening ceremony in Victoria Park yesterday, Standard Chartered made it clear the decision had nothing to do with them and was solely down to the race organiser.
"It is up to the HKAAA as to what categories there will be in the marathon," Standard Chartered's head of media and corporate affairs, Gabriel Kwan, said. "This type of decision is really not for us to make. It's up to the HKAAA who know exactly what the route is like and the possible safety concerns involved."
Hong Kong is one of nine marathons that Standard Chartered sponsors - the others are Singapore, Mumbai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Jersey, Nairobi and the Falklands - some of which give disabled competitors a chance to take part over certain distances.
"Different countries will of course have their own categories depending on the course. The categories are up to their own race organisers," Kwan said.
Samuel has competed in marathons, triathlons and half marathons all over the world. He said the race would never be classed as one of the world's best if it continued to prohibit wheelchair competitors.
He represented Hong Kong in 2006 at the All-China Disabled Biking Race, finishing second. The 43-year-old competed in the handcycling segment of the gruelling Tour de France in 2007, and in Singapore at the inaugural international Aviva-Ironman Triathlon in 2007, finishing second.
Despite Samuel's track record, Kwan Kee, chairman of the HKAAA, ruled out any hopes of him competing next week. "We have a very limited time to use the road and have a full field of runners. Because of this we do not have a category for wheelchair athletes," Kwan said.
He said London, Boston and New York had marathon courses that were better suited for wheelchair athletes.
Samuel disagreed, arguing that he competed in the Unicef Half-Marathon held at Hong Kong Disneyland last November, which had many huge gradients. Samuel coped easily, finishing 20th overall in a field of 3,000.