Isaac Yuen Wan Ho is Talking Trail Running

Isaac Yuen Wan Ho has been running in the Asia Trail Master spotlights since the first race of the year, and he is a well-deserving points ranking leader halfway through the season. A true Hong Konger, Yuen Wan Ho is a runner pur sang, with a marathon PB well below 3 hours. But he can also struggle his way up the hills, which makes him a strong all-rounder and competitive in every race he starts. Two weeks ago he was again in the mix in Malaysia, finishing strong to score second place in the Magnificent Merapoh Trail, equaling his performance of earlier in the season in Brunei's Beach Bunch Trail Challenge. While Philippines' trailrunning star Manolito Divina may have an additional gear in his legs, to finish first you need to finish first, and Yuen Wan Ho has put the pressure back on. Determined to also become an Asia Trail Grandmaster, he will not give up easily. Time to get to know a bit more about Hong Kong's Isaac Yuen Wan Ho.  

Q: Are you and born and raised Hong Konger?
YWH: Yes, I’m native Hong Konger.

Q: Was running something you have always done, or is it a recent hobby?
I have run for over ten years but I started running more seriously with racing since two years ago

Q: Are you member of a running club?
No, I usually train alone

Q: Do you have any sports idols, athletes you look up to?
I would think about Kobe Brian. He is a true fighter, and never gives up.

Q: When did you discover your talent as a runner?
I don’t consider myself a naturally talented runner. But I am hard working and always look for ways to improve myself.

Q: What does your training plan look like? Do you have a coach?
I run every day, sometimes twice a day. Though participating in many ultra-distance races, my routine training doesn’t have lots of long runs. I rather have some quality training for 1-2 hours.

Q: Do you pay attention to your food before a race? Are there any special products you take in preparation for your race?
Yes, I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. I prefer having real food for the race.

Yuen Wan Ho recently finished second in the Merapoh Trail in Malaysia, reclaiming the lead in the 2016 Asia Trail Master points championship

Yuen Wan Ho recently finished second in the Merapoh Trail in Malaysia, reclaiming the lead in the 2016 Asia Trail Master points championship

Q: What is your best time on the road marathon?
My personal best time is 2:53.

Q: At the Beach Bunch Trail Challenge, you mentioned you like runnable courses more than mountainous courses. Do you feel trail running is sometimes too much hiking instead of running?
Trail Running has many elements. I started my ultra "career" with road running and speed work is an important part of my routine training. Of course,  solid power walking or hiking is critical when you come to some more technical courses.

Q: · You must have an incredible recovery system. Seven days after the gruelling UTHK 156 you already did another trail marathon in Brunei and came second there. 
Those two races have very different characteristics. There were many stairs in UTHK while Brunei was very runnable. I paid attention to active recovery after the UTHK race, proper post-race meals, enough sleeping, massage, etc. and I did not push myself too hard in the race.

Q: Do you know your hematocrit level (percentage of red blood cells in your blood)?
I have no idea

Q: Hong Kong is of course the centre of Asian trail running. How did you experience this sudden boom of events in the HK area?
I think it started with HK 100, the first sole hundred kilos ultra-distance race. Hong Kong has the advantage of the easy accessibility to country parks and variety of terrains. Many elite runners either station themselves in Hong Kong or come here for races, which also helps to improve the level of local athletes and events.

Q: If you were a race director in Hong Kong, what would you change? 
As you mentioned, Hong Kong is already the mecca of Asian trail running. I would like to see a concept of series races like the Ultra-Trail World Tour adopted in Hong Kong. Runner get most points in selected races and get awarded or ranked, like in the Asia Trail Master series.  

Q: What is your dream as a trail runner?
I want to be a race director at some point of time and introduce my favourite trails to people. 

Q: What is your favourite race?
Many. Currently I still focus on races in my hometown in Hong Kong. Vibram HK 100 is a grand stage for international elite runners. Yet, the North Face Hong Kong 100 brings you to the best scenery of the city. Races in South East Asia are still developing but the hospitality there is brilliant.  

Q: What do you think about the Asia Trail Master series?
Asia Trail Master not only focuses on bigger races but also incorporates relatively low profile races which is a good idea. It helps to promote the overall standard of trail running in the region and also bring runners to some secret places.

Q: You are again in the lead in our 2016 points ranking. However, some other good runners will catch up for sure. What is your plan to defend your first spot?
I feel some runners are in a better position than me. I completed three races and I am satisfied with my results so far (4th, 2nd and 2nd, kvdv) . Now I need to try and improve on some of those results to increase my total points tally a bit more.  It would be a good achievement if eventually I could stay in the top 3 in Asia Trail Master Championship by the end of the year.

Q: Would you like trail running to become an Olympic sport in the future?
Considering the rising popularity, I think Trail Running has the quality to become an Olympic Sport. It gives runners an ultimate target and promotes the sport to a community level.

Thank you very much for this Q&A, and good luck on your Grandmaster Quest and in defending your first spot in the 2016 Asia Trail Master championship!