Crazy? Maybe ... but it’s my calling, says Hong Kong man who plans to run 1,400km around Taiwan

Sports marketing executive Wong Ho-fai is looking forward to running almost three times the distance of his Epicman adventure in Hawaii

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 11:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 1:18am

Having run 303 miles in five days at Hawaii’s Epicman in the summer, Hong Kong ultra marathon runner Wong Ho-fai wants to run almost three times farther – a staggering 1,400km – around the island of Taiwan.

The 33-year-old sports marketing executive in June completed the Epicman 300, a 487-kilometre adventure that took runners around the island of Hawaii.

Now, Wong is planning to run around the entire length and breadth of Taiwan at the end of next year. He thinks he can complete the physically gruelling run in “14 or 15 days”.

Completing that, Wong said he would raise the bar, ultimately attempting the famous Run Across America, a 3,500-mile behemoth. Crazy? Maybe.

“Taiwan will indeed be tougher than my run in Hawaii. I have decided to do this because I found my true passion in life,” said Wong.

“Also, I’m responding to my calling to run while inspiring others. I want to contribute so this will be a charity run.

“I truly believe it is doable because my mentor, Jason Lester, is living proof that humans can endure the distance run across America – 3,500 miles.

“And I believe that with the right training, strategy and mindset, nothing is impossible. It just depends on how bad you want it,” he said.

Fit & Fab: Wong Ho-fai

Wong is hoping 43-year-old American Lester, who helped prepare Wong’s mind and body for the Epicman, will join him in Taiwan. Lester has run the length of China’s Great Wall (4,200 kilometres in 83 days) and conquered the Race Across America among other noteworthy achievements.

“We talked about it after the run in Hawaii. He might drop by, but I know there is no guarantee. I would accept any outcome, it might not happen. I might run by myself. There might be no one on my support team. Anything is possible,” said Wong.

In June, Wong endured everything from sleep deprivation, fatigued muscles, extreme weather and loneliness to push his body further than it has ever gone before.

“I knew I could finish it before I set out, it was just matter of time,” said Wong. “It was tough on the first day.

“I wanted to see the sunrise at the top of the volcano [around 100-mile mark] so I pushed hard and took little rest in between. As it turned out, it took me 30 hours to finish [the first] 100 miles.”

But Lester was a bit worried after going through Wong’s log book, which recorded his diet, routine, toilet breaks, nap and rest, and suggested Wong slow down.

Gobi March ultra-marathon ignites running passion in Hong Kong lawyer turned philanthropist Agnes Cheng

“Lester said there was no point in rushing. He said we were not going anywhere [in a hurry]. You are not leaving until June 3. If you want to see everything, take your time, he said to me.’”

“He told me if I took little rest, my body would eventually shut down. If I took a longer rest, he said, say four to six hours, I would recover better and I would function better during the run.

“So we took four hours of rest in the passenger seat [at the parking space], woke up and started the second part of running.”

It was towards the second part of the run that Wong wondered why he was doing the race, running alone in the dark, pushing himself to the limits without so much of a cheering crowd to egg him on. It became a mental challenge more than anything else.

With 400km non-stop Ultra Gobi race, China pushes boundaries of extreme endurance

“Gary Vaynerchuk, the outspoken entrepreneur, once said, ‘You have to be your own biggest fan!’ and I realised that I was the luckiest person in the world because my family loves me and they allowed me to do all these crazy things such as running and racing.

“They never stopped me from chasing my dreams and were supportive. I have friends and they supported me.

Mental challenge heightened for Rory Mitchell as snowstorms threaten Mont Blanc Ultra-Marathon

“I have a secure job and don’t have to worry about money. Lastly, I am doing the thing I love and there’s nothing to worry. I wiped the tears off my face. At that moment, I was totally free!

“For the rest of the time, I enjoyed every second of the run. I am not chasing any goals. I am not searching for happiness because I am already living in it.

“There’s no reason to be unhappy. I started being thankful for everything that has come into my life, both good and bad.

“It was hot the whole way from Pahoa [east coast] to Hilo. After Hilo, we gradually climbed to Waimea. There are ranches along the road. Horses are friendly and you can pet them at the fence. We stayed at a nicely decorated guest house run by Jason’s friend for a good rest and hot shower since we started the journey.

Jim Walmsley will avoid being bullied by the big names at Mont Blanc in the ‘Race of the Decade’

“We left Waimea and climbed up Kohala during midnight. The strong downwind from the mountain brought the temperature down. I had to put on the down vest and covered my head to stay warm. I was so excited to enjoy the last session. The infamous Lava Field struck me in addition to the tailwind pushed me towards the finish line.

“It was an unforgettable yet spiritual journey that shaped a better me to serve higher goals.”

Wong will start preparing for his Taiwan adventure after competing in the local race season. He will focus on endurance and efficiency.

He will need a good crew for his whole trip and two support teams but believes his expenses will be more or less the same as in Hawaii, only it will take longer.

“I raced two multi-day expedition adventure races before I started running. It’s fascinating to see how our bodies adapt to the environment and deal with the stress.

“I want to race at least one more multi-day adventure race. Ultimately, I want to run the Appalachian Trail [2,189 miles], Continental Divide Trail [3,100 miles], Pacific Crest Trail [2,654 miles] and Run Across America [3,500 miles].”