Nora Senn has been involved with the Vibram Hong Kong 100k since the race’s first running. During that time she’s won the race, taken second, finished eighth while happily running with a friend, and swept the course. In the following interview, Nora talks about getting started as a trail runner in Hong Kong (rather than in her native Switzerland), why she loves this race, and what her plans are for 2015, both in terms of this race and her season.
For more on who’s racing this weekend, read our preview of the 2015 Hong Kong 100k.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Nora Senn Pre-2015 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nora Senn before the 2015 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. How are you?
Nora Senn: Good. It’s a beautiful day today, and I’m feeling happy.
iRunFar: You’ve run this race three times, correct?
iRunFar: You were eighth last year. You’ve been second, and you also won it a few years ago. So you must love this race?
Senn: Yes, I love this race. Yes, yes, this race means a lot to me. It was my first individual 100k race that I did. It was the first edition that I joined at that time as well. So, it was very small at the beginning. It was the first 100k that I won. The year after, it was the first race where I was a sweeper with my dog for half of the course which also was a very, very humbling and a very nice experience.
iRunFar: So you’ve seen this race from multiple perspectives.
Senn: I did.
iRunFar: This weekend, you’re back on the racing side.
Senn: Looking forward to it, yes.
iRunFar: You’ve run really competitively here with the first place and the second place. Rumor is that last year you maybe took it a bit more casually?
Senn: When you say competitive, I don’t think I’ve ever been. I’ve never really tried. Especially the one where I came first, I had no ambitions whatsoever. I was actually feeling weaker than the year before. I was expecting a slower time. I was just running. Until, I think, about after midway, I didn’t even realize I was much faster. For me, last year I was running with my friend and we were just having a good time. We’re planning to do the same again this year.
iRunFar: So you’ll just go out and see what happens?
Senn: Yes. Also, this year, I’m doing Tarawera which is just about three weeks after, so this Hong Kong 100k is just going to be about being part of it, enjoying the atmosphere, seeing all my friends, and being in the hills of Hong Kong.
iRunFar: You’re the second person I’ve talked to today that I believe started your running career in Hong Kong?
Senn: I did.
iRunFar: You come from Switzerland.
Senn: Yes. I never ran in Switzerland.
iRunFar: You show up in Hong Kong and were like, “I want to run?”
Senn: Kind of. I used to have horses in Switzerland, so I didn’t have much time. It was just work and horses. I came here, couldn’t bring the horses, but I had my dogs. I went hiking in the mountains and thought, This is fantastic here, and kind of got into running.
iRunFar: Did you start off on the roads?
iRunFar: Straight to the trails?
Senn: Straight to the trails. I cannot run on roads.
iRunFar: One of the things that sort of distinguishes Hong Kong from a lot of places’ trail systems is a lot of the trails are paved, or at least on the course you’re running on Saturday.
Senn: Yes, they are. Unfortunately, they are more and more. It’s still a nice scenery. Obviously, easier to run on it during the torrential rain which we sometimes get in Hong Kong—safer as well. Of course, I’d prefer the trails.
iRunFar: Is that the reason behind the paving is the torrential rains and the use?
Senn: Also, there are a lot of people, also older people, who use the trails and walk them every day. Of course, for them, it is a bit easier to walk on the pavement. So it’s safety and…
iRunFar: Is this Tiger’s Head behind us?
Senn: Yes, this is Tiger’s Head, yes. It’s my favorite, favorite trail where I run up in the morning or walk, a bit half-half, together with my dogs—sometimes at night looking over Hong Kong. It’s where I try and spend New Year’s Eve.
iRunFar: Up on the top?
Senn: Overlooking Hong Kong at the fireworks with a good bottle of mulled wine, for example, and saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming in the new one.
iRunFar: This is such a city of contrasts. Here we are. I just took a high-speed ferry from central Hong Kong, one of the financial hubs of the world, and I’m looking over my shoulder at two men in a boat with a fishing net.
Senn: This is Hong Kong. That’s why we all love Hong Kong. It has everything. It has nature, but it also has the big, big city. Yeah, every culture, every type of food, every type of people—there’s everything here, and it’s so close together. We can go from one to the other in 15 or 20 minutes.
iRunFar: From culture to the mountains, from mountains to the ocean—it’s a very interesting experience here. You’re doing some racing abroad this year as well?
Senn: Yes. I’ll do Tarawera in New Zealand. I’m going back to do another Ironman in Taiwan. Then for the rest of the year, I’m not quite sure yet. I tried to get into UTMB, but I didn’t get in. The plan now is UTMF which I’ve done before, so it will be nice to go back to UTMF.
iRunFar: It will be a different look, though, because it’s in a different time of year with it being in September.
Senn: It will be, yes.
iRunFar: Instead of spring, you’ll have autumn.
Senn: It will also be a little bit warmer.
iRunFar: Was it wet and cold your year perhaps?
Senn: Not wet. I was very lucky. All the three times I went, it was actually dry weather and good, but it was cold. I like it warm.
iRunFar: It’s not going to be warm this weekend, but it should be pleasant.
Senn: It’s going to be very, very pleasant. For running, this is perfect weather.
iRunFar: Enjoy. Best of luck.
Senn: Thank you very much. Very nice talking to you.