Monday, October 16, 2006

Lifetime Marathon 人生馬拉松(1)

Web photo ©K.S.Down

Lifetime Marathon (1)

Shortly after the closing of the registration for the Nike 10K race, here comes the registration for the Hong Kong S.C. International Marathon next year. As usual, the network connection to the online registration servers was badly congested. Although Hong Kong is a highly competitive society, running is never very popular as a challenge and competitive sport, except for a bunch of enthusiasts and sportsmen. For most people, running (or more appropriately, jogging) is just a convenient way to keep yourself fit and healthy.

The recent raise in popularity of long distance running has made it more like a carnival event of the city than a sport competition gathering. Good or bad, it is really hard to say, as it depends on what is in the mind of the participant.

Most people in Hong Kong jog every day just for keeping fit. There is no difference in nature between an hour's jog in the park after work and the morning walk of their elderly parents. Some like it done with friends and neighbours, some prefer doing it in solitude with the help of the earphone set and loud MP3 music. Nevertheless, as "how long or how fast have the others run" is concerned, it's none of my business. If we take away the negative factor of air pollution (sigh!), any kind of moderate and adequate amount of exercise is surely good for our health.

For many others, running is a favourite socializing activity. It doesn't matter if it is on the outdoor Tartan tracks at the sport ground or the indoor treadmills in a fitness club, the purpose is clear : tapping information from and socializing with friends, and hopefully meeting more new friends. Since you can not just stand there when all others are running (as this will be too obvious, ha ha), you do gain something after all – some exercises. But beware of the unexpected side effect : you might gain even more – weight, as a snack or a drink after the jog is rather common among friends.

However, the recent sharp raise in popularity of the sport is just the result of "Be Trendy". Since sponsoring public event is a well known advertising tactic, it will not be surprising to see the push by the sponsoring parties in order to make the events a city carnival and the talk of the town. Image when everyone around you talks about joining the event, and pop stars' participation has become news headlines, how out-of-date people will think you are if you are unable to say "I have joined too". So what you will see are so many first-timers who have not even jogged once before the event, exhausted or even injured, on the day of the race. There are also many participants who know their limits, never plan to finish the race but to hop on the buses heading for the finishing point right after having a photo taken on the Tsing Ma Bridge.

Of course, there are always the most original and proper reasons for participating a sport event – for the great physical challenge to oneself and the fellow sportsmen, the prize and glory, or simply for the self-confidence and self-worthiness. However, since not everyone is born a sportsman, exceeding one's physical limits might result in permanent damage. Is this really worthed? Views and opinions do vary from individual to individual.

Indeed Life is like a marathon. We all have different goals, and it is quite all right. The important thing is to know clearly what your goals are, and not just following the others around you. At the same time, you got to know your own limits, and understand the price you might have to pay. It doesn't matter if you take it as a dynamic or a means-to-achieve in your life, as long as it does not hurt any other people, and you think the price paid is worthed, the term "Right Thing to Do" does not apply.








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