In our third and penultimate part of the HK100 pre-race interviews, Lloyd Belcher and Andre Blumberg had the opportunity to catch up with Jeremy Ritcey as well as perhaps the most well-known ultra trail runners from China, Xing Ruling and Yun YanQiao.
Jeremy Ritcey is a Salomon sponsored athlete based and very well-known in Hong Kong. He has been trail and adventure racing for many years and has made a name for himself both on the local HK circuit as well as in a number of big international ultra trail events such as 2nd place at the punishing Canadian Death Race 125km. Jeremy no doubt knows the course very well having competed successfully in many Trailwalker events as well as having finished 2nd and 4th (and fastest local) in the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Vibram HK100, respectively. He recently changes his career from full-time teaching to owner and operator of Hong Kong’s first and only trail specialist store, the Lantau Base Camp and he seems to go from strength to strength. Find out more what makes Jeremy tick and how he is preparing for the race:
The 2013 edition of the Vibram HK100 sees an unprecedented number of participants from Mainland China. Among them are Xing Ruling and Yun YanQiao, both athletes with The North Face China who are expected to place well in the women’s and men’s Top 10 fields respectively.
1. How did you get involved in trail running?
Xing Ruling (XR): 我是2001年3月因心脏出现问题（严重的心律不齐），药物治疗不起作用，才开始跑步的，坚持跑步运动后，心率正常了，身体强壮了，坚持跑步6个多月后参加北京国际马拉松赛，以3小时20分完成全程。2002年便开始参加全国的户外越野挑战赛（武隆、贵州、浙江等），从开始喜欢马拉松，都后来喜欢上越野跑。真正开始超长耐力赛应该是2009年的北京TNF100夺得冠军后，每年都要参加几个超长耐力跑赛。
I started running in March 2001 when I developed a serious problem of arrhythmia. It didn’t respond to medical treatment and so I started running. Once I consistently ran, my heart rate became regular and my body became stronger. After consistently running for 6 months, I attended the Beijing International Marathon with a time of 3 hours 20 minutes for the full course. In 2002. I started attending outdoor challenge races around China (Wulong, Guizhou, Zhejiang etc). From running marathons, I began to enjoy trail running. The first real long endurance run was in 2009, where I came 1st in the TNF100 in Beijing. Since then, I have attended ultra running competitions every year.
Yun YanQiao (YYQ): 我的越野跑开始于09年TNF100，当时我是亚军，TheNorthFace从09年至今给予我们和邢姐很大的支持，支持我们参加国内外很多知名越野赛事。
I have been involved in trail running since 2009 when I took part in The North Face 100 (China) and came second. The North Face has been supporting myself and Ruling since then. They support us to compete in well known national and international trail running events.
2. What does the ultra trail scene look like in China? It still seems to be in its infancy given the global boom, but maybe it is just not visible from outside China. Is there increasing interest? More races?
In recent years, more people are into running. However, when compared to other countries, we have just started out in China. Therefore, our trail running experience is limited and we are also limited in choice of equipment, trail running skills, supplies and so on. In China, there are many trail running events such as TNF100, Xiamen100, Beijing Toumengou100 etc. People in China are starting to understand trail running and attend races. There is a certain interest because in comparison to road marathons, trail running offers challenges and elements of fun. When running, you have to adjust to different types of terrain and enjoy the scenery. I believe that trail running has a huge future ahead.
Trail running in China just started. Runners are gradually understanding what trail running is about and also trying to join these type of competitions. Ruling and I have been publicising trail running. There is quite a lot of interest and many people enjoy trail running. There are also a lot of resources available in China and many places can hold the races. However, there are still not many races in China. Apart from the TNF100 in Beijing, there aren’t many races that reach the same level. We still need to learn from other countries about organizing these type of races.
3a. Xing Ruling, you came 6th in the women’s field at the HK00 in 2012. Given that you have raced on this course, what did you learn from last year’s race and what expectations do you have for this year’s HK100?
Xing Ruling (XR): 去年参加HK100前，由于在训练时受凉，得了严重的胃肠炎，差点放弃参加。所以赛前自己只是抱着能完成多少就完成多少的心态上场了，结果到了赛场，被港百赛道美丽的风景所吸引，忘记了疲劳和身体的不适，向前、向前，不舍得停下脚步，最后挑战成功，夺得小金人。今年的期望当然还是要得到小金人，按照去年的经验，就是不要给自己太大的压力，一定要按照自己的节奏跑，合理分配体力，享受沿途的风景，轻松完赛。另外就是装备的选择，选择赛前已经磨合过的跑鞋、袜子，根据比赛当天气温选择合适的参赛服。HK100补给站各种补给充足，在CP5之前可以携带小腰包，少带一些自己喜欢吃的补给和少量水，在CP5放大一点的水袋包，在包里放一件皮肤风衣和食品，当跑到大帽山时，天已经黑了，气温也会下降，及时补充食物，增加衣物是必不可少的。
Last year just before the HK100, I caught a cold during training, developed a stomach infection and nearly gave up on attending the race. Before the race, I thought that it would be great if I could just finish the course. When I was in Hong Kong and running the HK100 trails, I was taken in by the beautiful scenes and forgot all my exhaustion and physical discomfort. I kept pushing forward and didn’t want to stop. Finally, I completed the challenge and received the ‘little golden man’ award.
This year, I still hope to get the ‘little golden man’. Based on last year’s experience, I won’t be giving myself too much pressure. I will run at my own pace and be wise in terms of my physical strength. I will enjoy the beautiful scenery and complete the course. Another aspect is the preparation of the equipment. I choose to wear shoes and socks that I have worn before race. I will decide what clothes to wear based on the race day’s weather. There are plenty of supplies at the HK100 check points and so I can just carry a small waist bag until Check Point 5. I carry little things I like to eat and a small amount of water. I put a larger hydration pack at CP5 containing a windbreaker and food. When I reach Tai Mo Shan, it will be dark and the temperature drops so it is essential to have a supply of food and wear more.
3b.Yun Yan Qiao, you came 5th in a strong field at the HK00 in 2012. Given that you have also raced on this course, what did you learn from last year’s race and what expectations do you have for this year’s HK100?
Yun YanQiao (YYQ): 今年争取前三吧，比赛名次没有那么重要，重在享受比赛的过程，通过比赛积累经验，补给，装备以及能分配，这些都要吸取去年的教训，今年尽可能好好发挥。
This year I hope to finish in 3rd place. The result is not important. The most important thing is to enjoy the competition itself and gain race experience in terms of supplies and equipment. These all needed to be learned during last year’s event. This year I intend to do as well as I can.
4. Both of you live in Beijing and from the outside, it appears to be difficult to find places for trail running. Where do you train and what does a typical training week look like?
There are good places to train and there are mountains not too far from where we live in a Beijing suburb. Normally, I run at least 10K on the country roads near my home to train in the mornings and evenings. On weekends, I run on mountain trails. Xiangshan in Beijing is also a training ground. There are small mountain trails everywhere where you can run with friends and can run 30K. If that is not enough you can keep running for 60, 70km until you feel you have run enough.
We usually go to Xiang Shan or Chang Ping to train. It’s not that high above sea level and the highest point is 700 metres. We also normally train on stairs and run on a treadmill. We normally run around our own neighbourhood from Monday to Friday. I run in a park everyday and at weekends, we run together at Xiang Shan.
5. What plans do you have for the rest of 2013 in terms of competing in other international races?
My first trail event in 2013 will be the HK100 then there is the TNF100 in China followed by UTMB in France during August. Maybe I will also attend some other trail races and marathons. Non-stop running and non-stop exploring are my pursuits in life.
For 2013, I am preparing for the TNF100 (China) and UTMB. There are no other race arrangements so far apart from these.
Thanks Ruling and YanQiao for the insights and good luck for the HK100 race this weekend!
In our fourth and final part of the HK100 pre-race coverage we will showcase two developing countries that are actually rather well-developed when it comes to grassroots ultra trail running talent. We feature Team Columbia from Nepal as well as Team Baldrunner Elite from the Philippines. Also, we will provide you with our perspectives on likely podium finishers and offer you a chance to cast your race predictions as well, so check back again soon.