Through endurance running, I’ve been learning to lead a healthy balanced lifestyle, improve resilience and maintain focus over an extended period of time.
○ Virtual Sydney to Melbourne 1,000km in 2 weekends + 13 working days, 2020.
○ Indoor Iso Miler feature in TrailRun Magazine edition 37, 2020.
○ Wise Words feature in TrailRun Magazine edition 35, 2020.
○ Delirious W.E.S.T. 200 miler, finish at first try, 2020.
○ HTV Sports interview, 2019 (in Vietnamese).
○ Tahoe 200 miler finish at first try, 2019.
○ UTMB CCC finish at first try, 2019.
○ ANZAC Sweep membership, 2018.
○ Grand Slam Marathon Club membership, 2018.
○ North Pole Marathon, 2018.
○ Seven Continents Marathon (#777) Club membership, 2016.
○ Antarctic Ice Marathon, 2016.
○ Australian Sweep (#888) membership, 2015.
I fell into running in 2014 with a half marathon along the scenic Great Ocean Road, whilst preparing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. I finished the year with a second marathon in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While the first half marathon was almost an accident, after this second marathon, I sensed there was something more to running, and decided to pursue it further for at least a few more years.
I still remember my first 2km run. It was hard! The idea of running even such a short distance had always seemed beyond reach for me. But running, especially endurance running, has a way of sneaking up to you.
In the fourth year, I completed my first ultra race, the 5-day 250km race across the Simpson Desert in the Australian Outback. This race ignited a switch to trail races, with ultras outnumbering marathons.
In the fifth year, I ventured up to Camp Barneo to run a marathon near the geographic North Pole 90°N. With the completion of this run, I was honoured with the Grand Slam Marathon Club membership, being the 111th global member, the 11th from Australia, and the 1st from Vietnam. The ANZAC Sweep was done with two road marathons in Rotorua and Christchurch. I also completed two 100km single day ultra races at Oxfam Melbourne and Blackall. Feral Pig in Western Australia marked my first try and finish of the 100 miler distance.
My running story continued in 2019, my sixth year of running, during which I explored track racing (24/48hr) a bit further and finished my first single-stage 200 miler running around Lake Tahoe in the USA. In doing so, I established a new base of resilience at the trail distance of 100km.
2020 started with another 200 miler, a local event called Delirious W.E.S.T. in south-western Australia. This was going to be my most ambitious year running wise, but COVID-19 put a quick stop on everything. The endless lockdowns led me to explore virtual racing with events such as the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1,000km, the Sydney to Melbourne race 1,000km, and the team relay Circumpolar Race Around the World 50,000km. During the lockdown period, I had plenty of time to ponder the next chapter of my running adventures, and decided to focus on 200-mile and longer races from this year on. 200 milers are 90% mental and 10% physical. So I put my mental resilience to the test by completing a 100-miler indoors at my home in over 20 hours.
In 2021 and the early part of 2022, like the rest of the world, I was dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. I kept on running but, for one reason or another, did not accomplish the big running goals that I had set for myself.
2023 saw me struggling with long covid and knee injuries. Within this calendar year, I had my eye on accomplishing the Triple Crown Downunder, a series of three 200 milers staged in Australia – Delirious WEST in Western Australia, followed by Irrational SOUTH in South Australia and Unreasonable EAST in Queensland.
Endurance running can seem like such a dark joke if we try to weave logic into calculating returns versus investments. The most common responses I get from people observing my running are blank looks or “Why?” questions. But then when the same people see me healthy and chirpy for years on end, they somehow fail to make the connection between my physical and mental state with my running routine!
Like with most challenging pursuits, theories will not deliver benefits. Only action and practice do. For many who could try and have tried running on a regular basis, running could have revealed itself as a great analogy to Life, as the reason you thought got you into running might not be the deepest reason after all.
Through running, one could learn to deal with one step at a time, stay with the breath, and watch those noises in one’s head fade away. One could learn to be kind to oneself and others. One could learn to fail gracefully, and to win quietly. When combined with other practices including meditation, fasting, yoga and a healthy diet, a runner could also enjoy being in peak fitness at all time, free of sickness and having ready access to a seemingly endless source of positive energy.
Running, in combination with other practices, has changed my life. Not gifted with athletic abilities, I went from being heavily reliant on antibiotics just to get through each year to being 100% medication free. Since the second year of regular running, I have been able to live a full life with no down time, and to take care of my family and community, with renewed energy every day.
If you are hesitant about running, please do not forget that a 100km race starts with the first 1km. Barring severe injuries or certain disabilities, anyone can jog for 1km with a bit of effort. If you take the time to examine each of my running year calendars, you may notice that I committed to clear key running goals for each year, which gradually became more challenging as my running progressed. That could be one way of raising the bar, as one becomes more confident with running.
Allow running to inspire you by taking that first shuffle.