Just a year and a half after giving up smoking a pack and a half a day and taking up running, Vlad Ixel took third at last year’s Vibram Hong Kong 100k. Just a few months ago, Vlad moved from Perth, Australia to Hong Kong and he’s been racing like a madman (17 races in 15 weeks) ever since. In the following interview, Vlad talks about his transition to running, why he moved to Hong Kong, and why he’s not focused on the Hong Kong 100 this year.
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.]
Vlad Ixel Pre-2015 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Vlad Ixel before the 2015 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. How are you doing, Vlad?
Vlad Ixel: I’m really good, thank you.
iRunFar: I haven’t had a chance to talk to you before, but you’re a new runner
Ixel: Yeah, it hasn’t been that long. I quit smoking and started running about two-and-a-half years ago. It kind of changed my life completely.
iRunFar: What made you change? Was it that you wanted to change your health first or you somehow found running after that?
Ixel: Yeah, I think I got to a point in my life where I was just about 25 and I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t healthy, I didn’t have any energy. I was addicted to smoking a pack a day. I was drinking every single day, addicted to energy drinks. I’d had enough of that. I quit smoking and signed up for a marathon literally a few days after that. I ran that marathon and couldn’t walk for about three weeks, but that kind of joy that finishing a marathon brought me, it was just like way more than any substance or anything else had ever brought. So I just kept on rolling with that. Yeah, now I’m pretty much…
iRunFar: So a year-and-a-half into running, you take third at the Hong Kong 100k, in an international field. How did that feel?
Ixel: Yeah, it felt good. It was definitely an amazing experience last year. I had so much fun. I was quite happy with my result. Yeah, I was having a good time here last year.
iRunFar: You’re not taking the race this weekend as an A-level focus race for yourself. You’ve been racing a lot.
Ixel: Yeah, it was never that important to me. I think I haven’t gotten to the point to where I’m good enough to try and kind of have an A race, an important race, because a few weeks ago I ran my first road 10k. I ran 32 minutes, and I was pretty surprised.
iRunFar: In your first road 10k?
Ixel: My first road 10k.
iRunFar: If I was reading your Facebook page, perhaps you went out the night before?
Ixel: No, that was another 10k. No, I finished second there. Yeah, I’m trying to find my weaknesses and try and improve upon them. Once I get to that point—that might be two or three years from now—then I can really focus on a couple of set races and try and do my best at them. But right now, I don’t really taper before races; I don’t hold back; I go as hard as I can. Sometimes I try and blow up in races especially so I can kind of overcome that and learn that. Yeah, it’s a matter of time. I’m sure I’ll have a good crack in the Hong Kong 100k in the next two or three years. Yeah, it’s not really a goal.
iRunFar: Gain some experience.
Ixel: That’s right.
iRunFar: You’ve raced 17 times in 15 weeks or something like that?
Ixel: Yeah, leading up to this there have been 17 races in 15 weeks, so I’ve tried to get as many races as I could. It’s been good fun and a learning experience. I was a bit unlucky with twisting my ankle last weekend in a race, but that was a bit unlucky. Otherwise, I’ve been feeling good.
iRunFar: You were actually a little bit on the fence about racing this weekend?
Ixel: Yes, I think I’ll make my call tonight or tomorrow morning. I’ll see.
iRunFar: You’re from Perth. You’ve lived in Australia, and you moved to Hong Kong so you could run in part. Why?
Ixel: Perth is extremely flat. I’d have to spend two or three hours driving to the hills. The highest point there would be 200 or 300 meters up. I thought basing myself somewhere in Hong Kong would be kind of a good opportunity for me to improve and train in the hills instead of spending hours on the treadmill in the gym or doing stair repeats in Perth. Also the fact that I could race so often—living in Perth, the only opportunity for me to race was to travel to the east coast of Australia or to Asia. It was cheaper for me to find a flight to Asia, so I started racing there. I really enjoy it here. There’s a great deal to do as well.
iRunFar: Culturally, how is the change there?
Ixel: I like it. I like the people here. They’re quite nice and quite friendly. I’m getting used to the food slowly which is definitely a positive. It’s been amazing.
iRunFar: Did I read that you’re vegan? How do you make that happen?
Ixel: Yes. It’s a bit harder here than Australia. I go into places and they don’t really understand the concept of vegan. I’ll say, “I don’t eat meat.” They’ll say, “That’s okay, we have chicken.” The cheeses and dairy aren’t that bad here, but yeah, being vegan here is a challenge, but…
iRunFar: Just like a lot of things.
Ixel: Yeah, just like a lot of things in life, so it’s not really a big deal.
iRunFar: Best of luck if you decide to race this weekend and in your career.
Ixel: Thank you. Thank you.