It’s 6am and Syd Smelt is about to conquer 10km of ground for the third time this week. For the 30-year-old human resources professional, these morning runs are about rising to a challenge. His upcoming test, the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon this Sunday, will be added to a growing list of victories including the Edinburgh Marathon, Sheffield Half-Marathon, and Brighton Marathon back in the UK.
“I always loved running and this forced me to make time for it,” Smelt tells Localiiz. “After relocating from one continent to another half way around the world and becoming a father at the same time (twice), my fitness took a dive, a deep, deep, bottom of the sea dive into the abyss of nothingness. I badly needed to get back into shape, returning to my days of being fit and healthy. For me, having a target to train towards has been a huge incentive to somehow finding some time to get out there and pound the pavements.”
Smelt will be joined this weekend by 73,000 fellow runners, to conquer one of five race courses across Hong Kong island and the New Territories. Like thousands of competitors, Smelt is using the race as an opportunity to give back to the local community and support a charitable organisation that strives to improve the lives of others.
“I am not an official charity runner, however having done some research, I found Po Leung Kuk, an amazing organisation that does some tremendous work for disadvantaged and orphaned children as well as the elderly. I am therefore proudly running to raise funds for them,” Smelt says.
Returning for the 19th year and aptly themed Run For A Reason, the marathon takes place in 10 cities around the world and promotes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise. Participants choose to race for a cause, be it for charity, unity, a greener environment or, like 33-year-old barrister Ashley Southern, for health.
“The race is a great boost to the New Year and to complete it will motivate you to face new challenges. I lost a lot of weight in the run up to the event, which is good for health in general. It is a great test of mental and physical stamina,” Southern tells Localiiz. “Once you have gotten over the fact of waking up at 6am in the morning to get ready for the race and standing out on the street in the cold early hours of the morning with thousands of other competitors, there is the feel good factor of being part of some event so huge.”
Should you choose to accept the mission this Sunday, these guys have some handy tips to help you to the finish line. “My advice to people is do not over-train, and avoid ‘weekend warrior syndrome’,” Southern suggests. “Since most people are office workers, their time for training on weekdays may be limited. They should take it easy on the weekend and not go all out to compensate for a lack of training on weekdays as this often leads to injuries.”
“Make sure that you have good shoes,” Smelt adds. “The bounce in those good shoes will save you a huge amount of energy and protect your knees. And above all else, don’t forget to enjoy it!”