It's amazing how small the internet has made the world.
Wendy and I know each other through mutual friends and I have followed her journey from Kansas City to Hong Kong through social media.
She is a wife, student, competitor, and full-time resident of Hong Kong. You can often find her in their small kitchen fermenting various foods, tending to her urban garden, or escaping the concrete jungle for some time on the trails.
One of my favorite lines from her below interview regarding trail running was:
I’ve grown in courage to explore new boundaries and to go on adventures.
I love watching women like Wendy and my Summit Fit Academy participants come alive as they take on new physical challenges in the outdoors.
Enjoy being inspired by Wendy!
Where do you live?
I live in Hong Kong with my husband. I’ve been here since 2013.
Have you always been a runner?
Ever since high school (which is a lot of years ago now!), I’ve run for exercise, though that was primarily road running at short distances. I’d never run longer than 7 miles and never really done races before.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your daily or weekly routine with trail running:
I really only started trail running in August of last year, together with my husband, and in general we trail run three times a week - one long run on the weekends (>15K) and two mid-week post-work runs of between 7-10K each.
What inspired you to pick up trail running in Hong Kong?
Though 7 million people are packed into the “concrete jungle” of Hong Kong, 75% of the city is rural and about 40% is actually undeveloped “country park” area (like state or national parks in the USA). A ton of trails traverse Hong Kong’s landscape, and because we’re situated right on the water (and some of HK is on a number of islands), there are a lot of steep hills to climb! There’s much less traffic on trails than roads, and it’s sure a lot more beautiful and fun. :)
I had run little bits on trails during my first few years here, but my brother Justin - who lives in Mainland China and is an ultra-marathon trail runner - was my greatest inspiration to really pick up trail running.
My husband Tad and I have hosted Justin a lot over the last two years as he’s been in Hong Kong for 50K and 100K trail races, and we’ve become his support crew for these. I learned a lot about the sport from him, and I became attracted enough to it that I decided to really give it a go myself!
What is the longest trail you've conquered? What is the typical elevation gain?
My husband and I trained for a 27K (~17mi) trail race in December, and that was the longest we’ve ever done! The elevation gain for that race was a brutal 1900m (6200ft), including Hong Kong’s 2nd and 3rd highest peaks. We actually did that twice, including a recce beforehand to scout out the race…those 5 hours of craziness in steady rain and monsoon winds made us pretty certain we can do anything.
Have you competed in any races yet? Tell us about it!
YES! We signed up for some races this last Fall and Winter (that’s when the trail running season is in full swing in HK because the weather is much nicer!). Those were great targets to motivate us to train.
We did a 15K race in September as a “mixed pair”, and we came in 1st in our category. I did another 15K trail race in October, and I placed 1st overall for women! Later in October, we did a 24K race, and I was the 4th woman to finish.
In December, we did the 27K race I mentioned, where I beat my time goal at 3:25 and came in 8th, behind 5 elite runners who’d flown into HK from other countries. Then, in January, I did a 20K Ladies Race, the first all-women trail race in Hong Kong, and I came in 1st at 1:54!
I have been so surprised to be competitive at these distances, and I love pushing myself to get stronger and healthier. I’ve also fallen in love with the trail running community here, and I’ve started to make some friends.
What kind of diet do you consume to properly fuel this type of activity?
During long runs and races, we use Tailwind Nutrition “Endurance Fuel”. It’s a powder mix of calories, electrolytes and hydration to mix into water. Because we're running medium distances at pretty strong paces, solid food won’t digest really well so I stick to Tailwind and water - it works wonderfully! Otherwise, I eat a high healthy fat diet with a good mix of complex carbohydrates, lots of veggies and fruit, with only a little simple carbs or sugar.
What kind of inspiration and life lessons do you draw for your everyday life during your runs?
I find that I’m stronger than I thought I was. I can push through obstacles that seemed impossible and I can keep going and gaining ground. This applies to my physical runs, of course, but it’s also a spiritual, mental, emotional and social reality for me. I also think I’ve grown in courage to explore new boundaries and to go on adventures.
I was on a work trip to Switzerland in October (without my husband), and on my day off, I did a 21K trail run by myself on a mountain - power hiking 2000m in elevation in one go! I never would have done that kind of thing alone before we started trail running.
What are your long-term goals with trail running?
I really want to train for and race a 50K! I’m not ready to do that now, but I really want to get there in the next few years. Beyond doing some 50K races, I don’t know…most serious trail runners end up increasing distances so maybe a 100K would be in the books much later on!
What specific health benefits does exercising outdoors offer to you?
The best benefit of trail running in Hong Kong is the change of pace that it offers. This is a very busy, fast-paced city, crammed with people all heading somewhere, and getting out on the trails offers a chance to breathe deeply, enjoy beauty, and detox from the busyness of life.
Additionally, I have never been more physically strong than since I started trail running. Trail running requires more agility and strength than I ever imagined, using muscles that just don’t get a workout with running on flats or roads! It was not easy to get in trail running shape, and I spent months going from being one kind of sore to another. But, I’ve loved it all - and it’s made me stronger mentally and emotionally as well.
Do you have plans to compete or run for fun in other countries?
I plan to run in the States when Tad and i are back visiting family this coming summer, and hopefully there will be a few little races we can join in! Other than that, I’ll stick to Hong Kong for now. :)
If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything outdoors for a day, where would you go and what would you do?
I might actually choose to go back home to Wisconsin for a day during the height of summer and garden produce season. I’d collect eggs from the chickens, pick everything that’s ready from the garden, catch some fish, and cook a massive dinner! I really miss having that kind of space and living from the land.
Are you curious about creating a lifestyle of health and wellness for yourself? Join us for the next round of Summit Fit Academy in May where I give you to the tools, resources, education, and support you need to create a lifestyle you love. Spots are going fast, grab yours today.
Photo Credit: Alpinamente, https://www.alpinamente.com