Stone Tsang is one of the best ultra runners to come out of Asia. He has a very impressive resume including top 20 at UTMB twice, winning the TNF100 in Hong Kong and top ten in the HK100 several times. It’s been a privilege working with Stone over the last few years, as not only is he a great runner, he gives back to the sport and has been a driving force in aiming to prevent the trails in Hong Kong being concreted over. All that and he is a devoted family man. The outwards impression he gives of a nice, down-to-earth man belies the fierce competitor that lies beneath.
Here we chat to Stone about ultra running and what he’s learnt along the way.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN THE SPORT?
My first run was a road marathon in 2003, that was a race I just wanted to go with some colleagues to have fun, like joining a party. But I didn’t have any running experience before that. I didn’t have any idea how long a marathon is, how many hours it would take me to run it. But I liked playing football and badminton. However, in the end, that was a nightmare for me. I took almost 5hrs to finish it, every single muscle in my body was cramping. I even couldn’t walk up a few stairs after the race. But some of my older colleagues finished the race quite easily, not like me. At that time, I told myself, I won’t let that happen again, I will be improve…
After that, I spent time to do some running training, I had quick and big improvement that really made me feeling satisfied and I found I really like running. That is how I started…
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE RACE SO FAR?
I think it is UTMB (Ultra Trail Mont Blanc). I like the race competition, atmosphere, the environment, the mountains, the finish line… everything made it so exciting.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM A RACE?
I quit the UTMB race in 2009 in check point Champex-Lac (124km) due to my leg injury. I couldn’t dare, and hadn’t the courage, to tell my wife face-to-face I wanted to quit the race in that CP (she was supporting me in the race that year), the injury had been really hurting me. I called her by phone just after I left the CP to tell her I wanted to quit the race and ask her permission. Then I cried…that feeling is still very strong in my mind now. Actually I spent a lot of time and hard training to prepare for that race, also my wife gave me a lot of support, she even came to the race to support me, I didn’t want to make her disappointed…
WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ULTRAMARATHON ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
It’s really an honour to have people’s respect and recognition even though I am not the strongest trail runner in the world. I feel so pleased my story can inspire people to do and learn from ultra trail running!
WHAT IS ON YOUR RACING BUCKETLIST?
I would really love to do the Transgrancanaria 125km race, La Diagonale des Fous 100miles race and Hardrock 100miles race one day!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM ULTRAMARATHONS? WHAT HAVE THEY TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE AND YOURSELF?
Ultra marathon is like a journey and an adventure as well in my life. It’s like a mirror that let’s me know about myself, teaches me how to be strong, never give up easily to do something. Also I realized how small a human is when facing the amazing and grand nature. I have to be kind, be easy! Ultramarathon just simply makes me happy, making my life full of color!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF TRAINING?
When I reach the top of mountain. Sitting there with my eyes closed, feeling the wind, my breath, my heart beat! It’s a perfect moment!
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BENEFITED FROM TRAINING WITH MILE 27?
I have learnt how to run and train smart! My performance has improved with less training and I suffer from less injuries.
WHAT IS THE ONE TIP YOU WOULD GIVE A FELLOW ATHLETE TO HELP THEM ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE OF RUNNING AN ULTRA MORE?
Plan your training to run on different routes, trails and mountains. You will feel excited to go out for the run and explore a new place.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT RACE?
Ultra Trail Monte Rosa.