MEET SAMANTHA CHAN: PUSHING BOUNDARIES FOR ASIAN WOMEN
HOKA ONE ONE athlete Samantha Chan is both an impressive role model and talented athlete in the Asian ultra running scene. She made the switch from track to trail and since has dominated 100km races in China and has placed 13th at the epic
UTMB, a 145km race through the Alps starting in Chamonix.
Talking of her childhood growing up in Hong Kong, “They think that girls should be quiet. That they shouldn't do any sports. That they should stay home and do
the housework. Ever since I started running, my parents yelled at me — but I just ignored them!”
Samantha continues to blaze a trail for female Asian athletes whenever she races. With every step, she empowers more and
more women in her tribe. She speaks loudly in support and her tenacious spirit in her races needs no voice to be heard.
MEET SAMANTHA CHAN
Growing up in Hong Kong you defied expectations usually applied to women. Tell us how you broke down barriers and first found your way to the track and the start of your running career.
When I was young, my mother
often told me that sports were not for girls, and the family doesn't have extra resources to support me in developing any hobbies, but I found that running was cheap, I just need a pair of shoes and I could do it everywhere. Then I
found it the open space in the track and the park brought me unlimited freedom, thus I ignored my mum's suggestion, instead of staying home, I went out and run.
You started as a track runner then graduated to trail running. What was your motivation to change the environment in which you run?
First of all, I think I am not graduated. I am still learning about myself through running. I tried to discover more about my body and my mental side through different training and races. but that's true, I started with track
running, and training in track was intensive by then, there was not much fun. I know suffering made me better, and the self achievement motivated me a lot. Plus the freedom in the opened track made myself happy, that's why I kept training
in track when I was young.
When I started trail running, I found that the nature is wonderful, I feel so happy and relaxed staying in the mountain. It is very peaceful. I don't mind staying there long and have a nice chat
with my buddies, or have a nice chat with myself. Every time I go to trail and have a run, I often go back home with a smile.
You’ve commented, “ultra races are very painful. Every time I sign up, I ask myself why I do it. Why I’m suffering on a cold mountain in the middle of the night, but I keep signing up.” What drives you to be an ultra athlete and how do you prepare mentally for training and racing?
It's very lucky to be an ultra runner. Life is all about experience, and being an ultra runner, we have different valuable experience by training and racing. We often push ourselves up to a point that reach the limit in races.
Every time when I feel tough but still carry on in races, I understand myself better, and happy to push myself beyond the limit, it's another self achievement.
I especially like to sign up overseas races. Doing a 100 miles
somewhere in the world is like a trip on my feet, those races bring me to see different parts of the world. I tell myself it's gonna be a fun trip when I sign up an ultra every time, and forgot how I swore and cried in the last ultra race
Where has been your favorite place to run? Why?
My favorite place to run is definitely Hong Kong. The mountains in Hong Kong are not very high but they are all spectacular. It is my home,
and that's so cool that I can enjoy the trails nearby my home. I enjoy the trails, but then go back to the civilization and enjoy all the convenience in the city in 15 minutes. How wonderful it is!
EMPOWERING WOMEN RUNNERS
You’ve often spoken about the camaraderie and support from other female athletes in the ultra-running community. How have you been inspired by others, and how are you looking to empower your fellow female runners?
Inspiration by buddies are very important. They set the examples to show me how to break the boundaries. We encourage each other and exchange information. It's very joyful. We are from different backgrounds and have totally different
personalities. I really like the fact the ultra running brought us together.
I didn't really plan to empower my fellow runners, I don't think I am that powerful, but I always think that if I am focused, serious, always
try my best to achieve something and being cheerful, people can feel the positive energy, and they will stay positive too.
Do you have a favorite pre/post race meal and/or ritual you like to follow?
I especially like rice as my pre race meal, it's very easy to digest and give me good energy. For post race meal, I go naughty, I like fries and ice cream. I like them all the time, but to make sure that my stomach is good for race,
I stop eating them in some serious training/ racing periods. They are my reward for myself when I finish an ultra.
Tell us about your partnership with HOKA ONE ONE
HOKA have supported my running gear
since 2017. I love the wonderful cushioning and grips in their running shoes. I admire the brand not only because of its great gears, but also because they appreciate the effort of every runner, regardless whether they are elite level
or not. That's awesome! Their encouragement means a lot to so many of us.
What are your favorite go-to shoes for training and for racing?
What are your big racing goals for 2020?
I want to train hard on road in early 2020, I am going back to train on the track most of the time now and hopefully I will be back to the trail in the second half of the year, stronger and with better cardio and running ability.
UTA will be one of my 'A' races.
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