#HKTRP #29 (Early Release) – Talking Oxfam Trailwalker 2015 with Martijn and an interview with the super fast team from Nepal and their manager Ramesh Bhattachan


This episode starts off with Martijn and I talking about Hong Kong Trailwalker 2015. We talk about the course profile, then we discuss a few tips for runners and then we conclude by mentioning some of the favorite teams that are in a position to do very well.

We then talk to one of the fastest Trailwalker teams of all times — the team from Nepal that comprises of some very young (and fast!) runners. Their team manager Ramesh Bhattachan talks to us about their training programme among other things. You will get a window into the lives of these runners and what makes them fast. Favorite questions from Andre Blumberg, Steven Sparksman and others are also answered.

The runners:

  • Their OTW time from last year (11.56), target this year (10.45)
  • The names of the runners
    • Kiran Kulung, 31 (Leading of Team Columbia running team)
    • Suman Kulung, 24 (12.12 on HK100 2015)
    • Arjun Kulung, 24 (1st in Annapurna 100k, 10h 33m) in 2015
    • Ras Kulung, 19
  • Team manager: Ramesh Bhattachan
Questions (Humble Beginnings)
  • How did they discover their passion for running and how did their story land them in Hong Kong last year?
  • What has having a coach taught you?
Questions (Training)
  • How do they train? Walk us through the training routine
  • Does Ramesh still make them do the Pressure Steps repeats?
  • What does a typical training week look like in the key phase of OTW preparation?
  • Whilst coach Ramesh provides continuity at OTW over many years, the respective runners in the team change regularly. How do you transfer the knowledge and lessons learned from one year to the next and from the previous team to the next?
Questions (Mental)
  • What keeps you going after 50K and how to mentally fit not to quit?
  • What do you say to yourself when the going gets tough?
Questions (Nutrition and gear)
  • What about gears and nutrition? What do they go with when they train?
  • What do they eat during a 100km race like OTW.
Questions (Personality)
  • How important is it for them to defend their title this year? And, why?
  • What is the pressure on them like? Families and friends back in Nepal
  • What do they want to achieve in life? What’s their dream?
  • What do they think is their secret to success in trail running?
  • If there is anything you could have and ask for to perform even better (e.g. better gear, more time training on actual course, better support during race etc.) – what would be your #1 request?
  • What is the major disagreement amount their teams during races/training?
Questions (OTW Strategies)
  • What’s their target time?
  • What’s their strategy to win the OTW?
  • What has their training and nutrition regime been in the lead up to OTW?
  • How do they deal with stairs in HK?
  • Do they run up Needle Hill stairs or walk?
  • How do they avoid getting lost?

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to


#HKTRP #28 – Talking Mindfulness with Learning and Development Coach Merche

Merche is a Talent and Leadership Development / Nutritional and Wellness Coach who has been practicing mindfulness for several years.  She has spent considerable time in Japan to learn about mindfulness. She shares her thoughts and expertise on the subject in this podcast. A must listen for anyone who wants to get more out of their life by living life in the moment to the fullest extent. Incidentally, she is also a runner and has done marathons in exotic places like North Korea and Myanmar.

Questions: (Asked in no particular order – we went with the flow)

1) What is mindfulness?

– how do you know you are reaching the state of feeling present?
– do you concentrate on breathing
– how do you control the constant fluctuation of thought?

2) I’ve heard that mindfulness is simply about being totally in the moment and aware of everything that is going on around you. Why is this so difficult?

3) What are the advantages of mindfulness?

4) If you are totally in the moment when you are doing something, how do you concentrate on the mechanical activities? i.e. if you are walking and you want to practice mindfulness, you might crash into a wall if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings. Is mindfulness something you do only when you are sitting down?

– what posture do you need to maintain?

5) “Olivia Luk: Mediation is constant observation of mind, quoted from my yoga guru. I suppose mindfulness is the same meaning in different word. Running per se is meditative to me, without having to think of meditation or being mindful.. do you think of sleep when you sleep? Bet if you do, you will lose your sleepiness.” – does she agree?

6) “Thailand Mountain Seb: When we run, we are naturally not mindful. We have many types of thoughts we aren’t aware of. Mindfulness meditation during running starts by focusing on something (it can be your foot or your breath) to “make your brain quieter”. It takes time and is the 1st step before anything else is to be aware of everything while running. It’s hard work.” – do you agree?

7) Mindfulness is when you are focusing on something whereas meditation is when you are thinking about nothing. Is that an accurate distinction?

8) How do you practice mindfulness when you are running?

9) Are there any “hardware” benefits of mindfulness? And has any of it been scientifically proven? Does the brain region actual change when you are practicing it?

10) How do you go about starting the process of mindfulness? When is the best time to practice it?

11) Are there different flavors of mindfulness?

13) Tell us about success stories that you’ve heard about that stemmed from someone practicing mindfulness




To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).


#HKTRP #27 – Summary of takeaways so far plus conversation with Retha Stroebel


We summarize what we learnt from the interviewees so far.

[Determination, Persistence and Purpose]
1) John Ellis
– If you DNF you have to come back and finish it the next year – so don’t DNF
– Tailwind
– Training strategy: not too much during the week but does track training, vertical training

2) Andre Blumberg
– Black pee, kept walking and still finished. The body will always recover

3) Janelle Seet
– Determination to achieve an outcome
– Sacrifices one needs to make to achieve a goal

[Techniques and Training]
1) Jeri Chua
– Visualization bubble
– Realizing that what we do involves risk but we do it because we enjoy doing it

2) Milos / Martijn
– Preparation & pacing – gear strategy
– Wake up to a map of the race

3) Jacky Leung
– Study movement, studied Killian running down Sharp Peak
– Don’t listen to music
– Vertical running

4) Joejoe Fan
– Do the things you don’t normally like
– Passion for running is contagious

5) Steven Sparky
– Heat Training (Rhonda Patrick)

[Mental State Management]
1) Merche
– Know the line between overwhelm / challenge / underemployment
– Stay in the present moment – practice non judgemental awareness through meditation or matching and mirroring

2) Jeri
– Visualization Bubble
– A board saying “is something broken? are you bleeding?”

3) Shane Early
– The concept of a happy place
– Spend as much time on trails as possible

4) Retha
– Name your blister – call it blister Bob

[Helping people and contributing to the trail running community]
1) Phillip Forsyth


Conversation with Retha

Retha is a fellow Lantau-er who discovered the trails, then hiking, then running and now ultra running – all from zilch to multi-stage long distance runs within a span of 2 years. She personifies true grit and courage. She completed the Translantau in 2015 despite a bad fall which caused a bad hand injury.

In this podcast, we’re going to learn from her and find out where this strength really comes from. She’s also a mother of 2 (well, 4, if you include the 2 cats she’s got). She is also good friends with Bruce(?), the water buffalo that lives about 100m away from her house in Pui O.
Trivia questions:
1) What is Retha’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why?
2) What in Retha’s view is her best accomplishment as far as trail running goes?
3) Does Retha have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
4) I know you listen to the noise of bullfrogs at 5am in the morning in Pui O. Why is that? What other weird things do you do?

Questions for Retha:
1) Humble beginnings: where it all started? When inspired her to start hiking?

1) 2014 March – Translantau 50
– how did she get from NOT hiking to hiking a 100km?
– walk us through the training (both physical and mental)
– up and down moments
– how did she feel at the finish

Physical training:
1) How does she manage to find time to train plus be a mom of 3? Is her family supportive of her trail assaults?
2) Has being a mom made her stronger? How so?
3) Does she have a coach?
4) Does she cross train? If so, how?
5) How is her training plan evolving?

[Personality / Philosophies]
1) Does she believe in taking medicines? If so, when and how? Has she taken medicines before during a race in order to finish a race?
2) Does she have any strategies for mental training?
3) How do her children view her? Do they recognize she is super mom

1) For beginners getting into 100km+ running, what kind of advice does she have?
2) What would she tell mothers who say they do not have enough time to train?

Parting words of wisdom:
1) #1 key to success:


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).


#26 – Talking Coffee and Ultra Running with Scottie Callaghan

Summary: An informative, interesting and entertaining chat with Scottie Callaghan!

Who’s Scottie Callahan?
1) I got this email from Ingo:

Hi Vince, I love your trail rocker podcasts and one idea could be to get an actual family man on air for a change.

Not that I intimately know all your other interviewees but I sense that most of them aren’t exactly of the “family tribe”. They are all very accomplished individuals – professionally as well as in pursuing their passion for (trail)running. What I am missing though is someone who’s actually juggling career, family (with kids) and trail running.

Guys like Scottie Callaghan maybe – I heard he’s got three kids! Being a family guy myself I catch myself often thinking that having to take care only of your career and your passion for running is almost literally a walk in the past compared to what we have to manage. Our running time is either coming out of our sleep or out of the time with your kids and neither is a good option.

Scottie is certainly a family man (3 kids) but also quite an incredible runner. He did his first 10km run in 2012 in 52 minutes and can now do the same in 39 minutes. He was quoted saying “you don’t have to be young to run or get into running”.

He is also known as the coffee man in Hong Kong. He used to work in Sydney as a barista and has been twice voted as the barista champion of Australia. He has traveled extensively to the areas where the coffee is actually grown and has made friends with farmers in Sumatra, Columbia and Peru. He runs Redback specialty coffee in Hong Kong. The iced coffee on top of Lantau Peak during the Lantau Vertical race was his doing!

Over to Scottie :
Plenty to talk about but first, three quick questions:

  • What is Scottie’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why?
  • What in Scottie’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running?
  • Does Scottie have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?

Talking Coffee:

  • What is so good about coffee?
  • Where did this passion for coffee start?
  • Did he ever thing he’d be leaving Sydney when he worked there as a Barista?
  • Is coffee an acquired taste like wine?
  • Do you think your passion for coffee will ever dwindle?
  • Does everyone in your family drink coffee?
  • You’re visited the farms where the coffee is grown. Is it safe to travel to those places?
  • You visited San Martin in Peru and your host Dionicio Aguilar asked you to pick up a sack from a farmer. Tell us about that.
  • Tell us about the cow incident
  • Where do you get the best coffee grow in the world?
  • Tell us about Redback. When was it started and how did you go about starting it?
  • Why the name Redback?
  • How much of Redback was motivated by a desire to make money vs pursuing a passion for coffee?

Talking running:

  • Humble beginnings: where it all started
  • Ingo’s question: when does he find the time to train?


  • 2012 Sydney – 10km
    What made him do this?
    What was the preparation for this like?
  • LT70, TNF 100 – Nov 2014
    Road running versus trail running, what does he prefer and why?
    From 2012 to 2014 talk to us about how the training plan evolved?
  • He won the MSIG 88 in Dec 2014 in his category but got beaten by an older man and a girl
    How did it feel to get chicked?
    His philosophy is to not enter all the races. Does he enter to try and win?
    How competitive is he?
  • Translantau 100 – March 2015 – 5th overall
    How did the training plan evolve?
    What were the ups and downs?

Training: (physical)

  • How often does he train and how? Can you tell us about your training program? What does it involve? Do you have a routine?
  • Has his training resulted in injuries and if so how does he deal with them?
  • How competitive is Scottie ? How important is it to him to best himself? Would he risk injuries in order to achieve certain goals? What’s his philosophy on team runs like the OTW? Would he push his team to do better or would they do it “just for fun” ?
  • Does Scottie take any painkillers during runs? What’s his philosophy on that? What’s been his most painful run? What about drinking? Is he a beer guy?

Training (mental)

  • How does he do such long distances during painful moments? What’s been his most painful mental moment? Is there something you say to yourself when the going gets tough?
  • What is his philosophy on pain? When does he know when to persist and when not to?
  • What does he tell himself mentally when he has to persist through pain and continue to the finish line?
  • Does running these distances help you with your work?
  • Do you feel guilty when you are running and NOT spending time with your family? Is your family supportive of your running?
  • How do you deal with stress at work or when you run?
  • Given a choice, would you rather be known for your coffee or for your running?

Nutrition / Gear strategy:

  • Does he have coffee during runs? What does he eat for nutrition?
  • Does he swear by certain gear? Hammer/UCAN/Shoes, etc


  • As far as running is concerned what are his goals for 2015?
  • Goals for Redback


  • For beginners getting into 50km+ running, what kind of advice does he have
  • What advice do you have for Ingo?
  • Those people who claim not to have enough time to run, what would you tell them?


  • How does he deal with stress?
  • Mantra to live life – what is his guiding principle?


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).


#25 – Talking Lantau 70 with Shane Early


In this podcast, we talk to Shane Early, Race Director of Lantau 70, to pick his brains on the race, how to prepare for it and so on.

Quick description of the race:

  • 70km run in Lantau – pretty much the Lantau trail 3300m elevation gain and loss. 65% trail, 35% road. 2nd half easier.
  • Two versions (70km and relay) Relay teams of 4

Quick Facts on this race:

  • This race is part of the Hong Kong Trail Racing League: (the solo 70km version) – Ultra League
  • This race used to exist back in the day as the Phoenix Challenge and Jojo Fan has the female record for it. I think it was 9 hours and 26 minutes. Jeremy Ritcey brought it back on in 2013 and Shane now runs the race
  • You get 2 points for the famous UTMB (Shane, out of curiosity, how do they judge how many points to award it?)
    (I apply with all relevant details, maps, GPS, previous results, elevation info, trail info. They have a formula. There are two parts. UTMB and UTMF. I apply for each. 2 points each event in 2016)
  • How many people are running it this year compared to the previous years?
    (420 in solo, around 33 relay teams. Not many all women’s teams.)
  • You are only allowed outside support at the checkpoints (True! I dislike races which allow that. Consider that cheating. It is unfair. )
  • Cutoff time 17.5 hours Yes, shortened so runners and volunteers can get last ferry out. Still a generous time.
  • Overall Male/Female top 3 receive prizes. Top 3 in each category receive prizes
    (Overall Male and Female winners get a Suunto Watch plus prizes from Salomon. Trophies are our traditional replica signs of the Lantau Trail. Medals for all finishers.)
  • How many overseas runners are running this time? Have not counted but similar to last year 50+

Visualize the course and the checkpoints:

  • Start Line: Please allow relay teams and fast runners to be up front. Tight squeeze first 400 meters to round about. Police will be there for traffic. Volunteers will line the walkway. Kids in Halloween Costumes
  • Sidewalk up to Nam Shan. Stay off the road!
  • Nam Shan to Sunset Peak – trails begin. lovely section. Tough climb – some runable
  • Pak Kung Au – cross road properly with my volunteer
  • Lantau Peak to Ngong Ping- tough work again. a little bit runable
  • LP – CP1 – Go down and turn right at giant rooster. 400 meters to CP1
  • Leaving CP1 – pay attention to left turn 200 meters in. Pop out at Cable Car building in Ngong Ping, cross public area to parking lot. then stay to the right. turn right on road and downhill for a few k. Cross road to start trails again. 3-4 short climbs – 2 are steep. Pay attention to trail signs. L041 will have a volunteer. No short cuts. L045 pay attention and follow signs into Tai O. Pass Man Cheung Po. Crappy downhill road before left turn into CP2. Drop Bags at CP2
  • Laving Tai O jog what you can, first climb is tough then out in beautiful plateau area. Pay attention to signs and go correct direction. Otherwise end up at CP2 again. Rolling hills, lovely trails. Downhill to the catch water is a bit rough so be careful. short catch water jog into CP3
  • CP3 – Shui Hau is ok. Can jog a lot. Careful crossing road and follow signs around Shek Pik peninsula. Careful with signs between L089- L092. Especially just past L089, road splits, Go uphill!
  • Later turns to trail near a fence, watch out later near Lo Kei Wan beach for the cows. He can be grumpy sometimes. and block s the trail.
  • Come out of Peninsula cross road and turn right past village about 300 meters and CP4.
  • Leaving CP4 is short trail climb to catchwater and turn right – follow follow follow until dead end and turns to trail, come out at road and turn left into pui O. At stoplight cross road and follow road around into Ham Tim where you may see people at a pagoda with water – it is ok to have water there. Follow road around past beach and left up Chi Ma Wan rd to steps on left for last big climb. After climb, go down and when trail splits go right and follow signs into mui wo. Careful in Mui Wo on road into finish.

Checkpoint food:

  • There are 4 checkpoints [Ngong Ping; Tai O; Catch water; Ham Tin village -pseudo checkpoint- ; Shui Hau]
  • CP FOOD: Water, bananas, oranges, Tailwind at 2 CP’s(Tai O and Shui Hau), Lucho Dillito bars at Ngong Ping, watermelon, pretzels.
  • CP3 will be simple, water, oranges and bananas.
  • Drop Bags at Tai O
  • Relay Team members can eat after their leg or before at the restaurant in village in Tai O. Many people did last year
  • Some runners do buy drinks at Ngong Ping and Tai O Shops. That is allowed.
  • There is a new checkpoint this year at marker L076, along the catch water after Tai O. Lots of people ran out of water there last year – New CP – I gave in to runner requests for a CP.

Quick word on the relay:

  • 4 stages (Mui Wo to Ngong Ping 13km; Ngong Ping to Tai O 14km; Tai O to Shui Hau 23km; Shui Hau to Mui Wo 20km)

Special Warnings:

  • Last year, there were DNFs (including yours truly) because of the very hot weather. This year, we might be looking at some hot weather too
  • Yes, Freeze your water bladder! We will have ice buckets at Ngong Ping and Tai O if hot. Just like Stairmaster.
  • Pace yourself. first 27k is hard work.
  • Don’t walk the catchwaters – you may not make CP cutoffs.
  • If you are doing the relay, “Don’t be late for your leg – this can cause tension and ruined friendships”

What should the strategy be for a person running:

  • Don’t run to Nam Shan first 2.2k unless you want to be in top 5. You have plenty of time to run later. Run what you can and fast hike the hills. Don’t waste time at CP’s.
  • Start easy, fast hike the first section in under 4 hours. Then move steady into Tai O. Leaving Tai O, jog what you can and then fast hike hills. Jog catch water around CP3 and into Shui Hau. After CP4 jog/run catch water and last downhill trail into Mui Wo. Don’t waste time at CP’s. Keep your drop bag simple.

Names to watch out for:

  • Male (not in any particular order)
    • Scottie Callaghan
    • Brendan Lee
    • John Ellis
    • Slavo Lindvai
    • Jeremy Ritcey
    • Jackie Leung
  • Female (not in any particular order)
    • Nia Cooper
    • Valerie Lagarde
    • Marie McNaughton
    • Irene Montemayor

Good luck to everyone participating and thank you to Shane for organizing the race and doing the podcast with me


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (!/id994423166).