Justin's marathon effort
WHITSUNDAY athlete Justin Knight-Gray has spent his Saturday mornings striving to beat personal bests at Airlie Beach parkrun since its beginning four years ago.
But on February 17, he chased a three-year dream at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2019 instead.
Knight-Gray finished 1146 overall out of the 22,500 runners who took part in the full marathon from Tsim Sha Tsui to Victoria Park.
He ran the 42km course in 3hr29mins, well ahead of the six-hour time limit afforded to participants.
Knight-Gray said the marathon was a bucket-list item he had been pursuing for three years.
"I'd heard about it and just wanted to experience it. We do marathons here and probably the biggest one I've done had 1000 people,” he said.
"When they said go, it took me two minutes to get to the start line. That's how many people there were.
"We were running on roads two or three lanes wide and it was packed, just as far as you can see.”
About 74000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong across all events including the marathon challenge, marathon, half marathon and 10km challenges.
The course ran from Tsim Sha Tsui, over Stonecutters Bridge and through the Nam Wan Tunnel (1.2km) and the Cheung Tsing Tunnel (1.6km) to Victoria Park.
Knight-Gray was given a place in the marathon last August after completing a lengthy application process which included a 10km local or overseas race and submitting finish times of any races, both in the last three years.
But when it came to finish times, he said this race was all about the experience.
"It's easy to get caught up with wanting to chase time, but I just really wanted to enjoy the experience,” Knight-Gray said.
"When you do a marathon, you get to see all the really good bits of places. It's almost like a really good way of sightseeing.
"You go fairly slowly so you see a bit more than if you were in a car or a bus.”
Knight-Gray said he was grateful to Whitsunday Running Club and Airlie Beach parkrun for the support he had received.
"There's always somebody else to run with so you can push yourself,” he said.
Knight-Gray returned with a Finisher Medal, awarded for completing the race within the designated time limit of his category.