Three years ago Jeff Campbell did not take sport seriously, now he’s Hong Kong’s male runner of the year

Canadian is named Green Race Male Runner of the Year at the Hong Kong trail-running awards, despite only starting running three years ago

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 9:50am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 9:50am

Jeff Campbell is still surprised with his own success when he reflects on his metronomic rise from first-time trail runner to one of Hong Kong’s best in just three years.

“I used to look at the winners of these races and think of them as completely different, genetically gifted. But I now see how much hard work goes into it,” said the 35-year-old Canadian.

“I try to copy that. But I guess I’m lucky and gifted with some good genetics as well,” he said.

On Friday night, he was awarded the Green Race Male Runner of the Year after winning 12 races last season, such as the Green Race Plover Cove 30km, and coming second in one race, the GreenPower 50. The WAA Female Runner of the Year went to Marie McNaughton.

“Before this season I only won one race,” he said. “My body was not ready for success, but getting rid of some weight and training more it’s coming together.”

Campbell took up trail running as soon as he arrived in Hong Kong. He was put in contact with John Ellis from trail store Gone Running, and was dragged out on to the trails.

He struggled to keep up at first, but soon realised he had a natural talent for running.

“Most of my friends back in Canada see my Facebook updates, and they are confused because I didn’t run before I moved to Hong Kong,” Campbell said.

“The friends never knew ‘running Jeff’. But my friends in Hong Kong only know ‘running Jeff’. So, it’s two very different chapters in my life,” he said.

Campbell attributes his recent improvements to his change in training. He now has a running coach, Andy DeBois, and has had a strength coach at Joint Dynamics, David Jacquier, for a couple of years. Campbell says he tries to be far more scientific with his training.

The biggest difference is the intensity of his training runs. Previously, he would run as fast as he could on every run.

“I know to take the easy runs easy, and then go really hard on the hard runs. You need to do both to manage injuries” and to get the most out of the more intense session, he said.

Campbell also tries to learn from other runners, because most of them have grown up running, whereas he has never taken a sport particulary seriously before now. He played ice hockey and squash, but admits he never achieved much in the sporting realm.

“Winning the award on Friday was an out of body experience,” Campbell said. “There’s so many good runners, I’m honoured.”

Stone Tsang Siu-keung stole the show at the awards evening, winning three awards including the Altra Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’m very happy to get the support of so many people and I’m very lucky,” Tsang said. “Thank you to the community.”

The Winners

WAA Female Runner of the Year – Marie McNaughton

Green Race Male Runner of the Year – Jeff Campbell

2XU Master Runner of the Year – Janine Canham

Joint Dynamics Youth Runner of the Year – Nathania Tang Ying Fei

Salomon Most Improved Female Runner – Frances Lai

Tailwind Most Improved Male Runner – Nick Cook

Runivore Best Solo Run – Stone Tsang

RaceBase Best Team Run – Team Japan

Andy Naylor Sportsmanship Award – Stone Tsang

2XU Best Race – Vibram Hong Kong 100

Black Diamond Best New Race – 9 Dragons

Ultimate Direction Best Trail Running Photo – Sunny Lee

Icebreaker Community Award – Filipina Extreme Hikers

Altra Lifetime Achievement Award – Stone Tsang

Alpinamente Sponsors Award – Tom Robertshaw