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A Frog’s Inspiration
Posted date: 03-Jan-2017

Tease him all you may, Running U CHAMP Frankie Yang takes pride in his sturdy ‘Frog legs’. After all, they took him over hills and mountains, through even in the most adverse conditions as he compete in ultramarathons – save for the episode where he was almost frozen to death.

 

 

Although Frankie only started running leisurely in 2012, his passion for the sport grew rapidly as he joined fellow enthusiasts at the U Sports Running Interest Group and caught the running bug. He gradually took to challenge himself further at grueling distances and different terrains. The 39 year old graphic designer fell for the adrenaline at the trails, much like a frog who found his natural habitat, and has never looked back since.

 

Motivational quote during one of those stairs training.

 

 

How did you get involved with running?

I started running ’cause I wanted to lose weight, yet I love to eat dessert. It was hard to be disciplined to stay healthy which is why I joined a running group. I’m glad I found the U Sports Running Group ‘cos the wide variety of runners made it less stressful to run even though I used to be so unfit. There’re fast and slow runners so it was easy to start and yet still room to improve as you try to catch up the person in front. I don’t feel left out as the sweepers will always wait for the last person, talk and check on you. The fun atmosphere made me want to come back and run again.

 

 

 

Why the Frog-spiration?

I have frog legs. I used to be a long jumper in Primary & Sec school. Even as a runner now, I enjoy climbing stairs to train my ‘Frog legs’. It helps me feel lighter when running like I can fly. Also, the green frog reflects my love for nature which is also why I enjoy trail running so much.

 

 

Posing with his favorite mascot at the Children Charity Walk.

 

 

What inspired you to pick up Ultra-marathon?

I wanted to take my love for nature and passion for running a step further and took part in my first ultra-marathon at the Lantau 50 in 2015 as a birthday challenge for myself. I wanted to see how fast I can make it and completed the trail in less than 10 hours which apparently is commendable for a first-timer according to others. The sense of accomplishment and pride was one of the best reward and birthday present I could give myself.

 

Also, running an ultra-marathon gives a very different experience from the road running races. Not only is the scenery different, the mindset of the runners also tend to be different. It builds mental toughness and taught me not to give up easily. At the same time, trail runners also tend to be more compassionate and willing to help the others to overcome natural obstacles.

 

 

 

You make ultra-marathon sound almost like a meditative experience. Any impressionable event you could share with us?

I almost died running the Vibram HK100 ultra-marathon last year scaling Tai Mo Shan! Hong Kong was experiencing a freak weather during that period and temperature dropped to freezing conditions during the race. Most of the runners including myself didn’t have the shoes to scale and descend the ice that built up on the mountain. I was 90km into the race and stuck on the top of the mountain due to route closures – many runners slipped and fell in the treacherous conditions. The raindrops that fell on me had turned to ice and I was going into hypothermia even under four layers of clothing! Luckily I found my way  to a nearby camping tent and they called emergency services to have me airlifted to the nearest hospital. It was the first time I was hugged by a stranger (to retain warmth) and harnessed up into a helicopter!

 

 

Frankie running the Vibram HK100 Ultra during the early leg of the race. Photo credit: Kit Ng

 

 

 

That’s a pretty crazy experience. Don’t you have any fears of ultra-marathons after that?

Surprisingly no. The only fear I have is of the dark and ghosts! During ultra-marathons it can get pretty spaced out between runners and sometimes I need to run alone or take short naps in the night. It can get really scary but I just need to be focused on finishing the race.  Run as fast as I can but listen to my body. I’ve learnt to be self-aware through confronting my fears.

 

 

What are your personal goals in 2017?

I’m targeting for a podium finish in 21km or 10km. I want to clock my personal bests and go below 1hr 40min for half marathon and below 40min for 10km. I’ll be training as a pacer in some of the races through U Sports meanwhile.

 

 

Speaking of being a pacer, what is your role as a U CHAMP in the U Sports running interest group?

As a lead runner, the first thing is to ensure the safety of fellow runners. Sometimes I plan and recce the running routes, other times I act as a route marshal or sweeper. Occasionally, I’m a food provider ‘cos I bake goodies and offer them as recovery food to the runners and it makes everyone happy after a hard workout!

On a more serious note, I’m also selected as a pacer for U Sports and get the opportunity to pace in races such as the Metta Charity Run and Tri-Factor Run among others. It feels good to be gain recognition for my progress and being given the chance to make a difference by motivating others as a pacer. Sometimes I do feel the pressure as a pacer, but it’s good pressure that helps me improve!

 

Frankie (far right) pacing at Tri Factor Run with fellow U CHAMPs. Photo Credit: Zan Ang Photography

 

 

 

Join Frankie and other running enthusiasts at the U Sports Run, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/191160354552228/ to find out more!