With a background in college track, Justin is fast. He's a relative newbie on the ultra trail scene, but announced himself in only his second 100K, with a blistering 10:54 at Hong Kong 100 this year.
1. Where do you live and where are you from?
A: I live in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China but originally am from a small farming town in Wisconsin, U.S.A.
2. Why did you get into trail running?
A: I've run for 18 years now, and in the past it was mostly all road or track with cross-country racing in the fall (aka fast grass and dirt trails in parks or on golf courses). But after moving to Chengdu in 2013, many of my local friends were so excited about the advent of trail running on the running scene that I got swept up in it, too! With 14 million people in the flat city of Chengdu, it's not a great training ground, so trails and the mountains just beyond the city have attracted me on days off or weekends and then I started to explore the Asian ultra scene in 2014.
3. Favourite race so far?
A: My favorite race thus far is the Vibram HK 100km. I've run it twice with good results, so it makes for an unforgettable day in the unique trail running community that Hong Kong has become famous for!
4. Dream race?
A: I'm really looking forward to CCC this summer, but ultimately I'd like to try my legs out (at least once) at the 100-mile distance at UTMF and UTMB.
5. Best trail racing result?
A: I'd say that my best trail racing result was this years HK100 result of 14th place in 10:54:40; everything came together on that day despite limited training. Crew efforts from my sister and brother-in-law who live in HK, the on-course volunteers, electric atmosphere, and world-class elite field pushed me to a result I didn't think possible!
6. Best trail memory?
A: My best trail memory would be hard to pick, but I'd say my early days of ultra-running while training with a local Chinese friend, Tang Yu, in the local farmland trails around Chengdu would be right up there. He's the most experienced and perhaps most well-known ultra runner in Sichuan Province, and his experience in the sport and willingness to share with me what he's learned and show me the local trails have been invaluable.
7. Advice for beginners?
A: Take it slow and enjoy the process of your body and mind adapting to the rigors and demands of trail running--we do this to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and wild places, so don't get swept up in mileage and results. In the end, no one remembers who won Olympic gold four years ago, so no one will remember if you DNF or won a local race. The camaraderie, friendships and shared memories of our trail running pursuits last a lot longer and are more meaningful than any training log or result we may be tempted to put on display at the moment.
8. Your favourite piece of WAA kit?
A: The sleeveless Ultra Carrier Tank! Asian races are almost always warm and humid, so it's a great top with its breathable fabric, storage capacity and sleeveless, full-zip design. It swallows a good chunk of gear required in a race, and it's great to use for a long training run where a vest is unnecesary or too warm!
9. What it means to you to be part of the #WAATEAM?
A: It's clear that the WAA Team--the other WAA Experts--are so passionate about not only the sport of ultra trail running, but also biking, climbing, mountaineering and more. It's exciting to be part of a dedicated team of both elites and weekend warriors who embody the ideals of these sports--freedom, enjoyment of wild places, pushing boundaries, and sharing their experiences and passion with others.
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