Michael Wardian has raced everywhere. Well, seemingly everywhere except Hong Kong. That’ll change after he runs the Vibram Hong Kong 100k this weekend, his first race of 2016. In this interview, find out what Michael thinks of Hong Kong and how he’s prepared for the specifics of this race course.
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Michael Wardian Pre-2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Michael Wardian before the 2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. Michael, how are you doing?
Michael Wardian: I’m doing great, man. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. How many countries have you raced in this year?
Wardian: That was last year, though, on December 31, 2015. So this is my first one this year—the 2016 kick-off in Hong Kong.
iRunFar: That’s been three weeks! Dude, you’re fresh! When was the longest you took three weeks between races?
Wardian: Before Western States. I took a couple weeks off before Western States. Yeah, this has been a long time. I just have been working, hanging out with my family, and now I’m starting to kick off the season in style with the Hong Kong 100k.
iRunFar: What about some training?
Wardian: I did some training, too. I definitely had a couple good weeks of training. I did some stuff to get ready. It was a nice little break. I feel kind of fresh and see what’s possible.
iRunFar: Did you do some training tailored to the Hong Kong 100k?
Wardian: Like stairs?
iRunFar: Stairs, or…
Wardian: I did a bunch of hills, but I didn’t do as many stairs as I thought I would. I thought I’d do the Exorcist stairs…
iRunFar: That’s exactly what I thought of. You weren’t hanging out in Georgetown doing repeats?
Wardian: I did do one set, but it was… I wouldn’t say I went there every week like I was planning on. I figure I know how to run stairs. It’s going to be kind of slippery on the stairs if the weather forecast is going to hold. I think we might have to be kind of careful.
iRunFar: On that front, you’re wearing Hokas. Will you switch to a smaller footprint? There are various heights and…
Wardian: I brought the Mafate Speed, and these are the Challengers. I’m probably going to wear the Challengers just to make sure… I think they are going to work well on the road section and transition well on the stairs. I thought maybe the Mafate if it was super sloppy like it looked like it was going to be. I think they would be really helpful on the really dicey sections.
Wardian: Exactly, yeah, so I brought both, but I think I’m probably going to go with the Challenger. They’re a really versatile shoe for me. I feel like they can do almost anything I need them to.
iRunFar: Have you raced in Hong Kong before?
Wardian: No, not yet.
iRunFar: It’s a new one!
Wardian: I know. I’ve been trying to get here for three or four years, and it hasn’t been possible yet. It’s a nice way to start 2016. I was really fortunate to get to visit the UVU facility.
iRunFar: Up in Guangzhou, China?
Wardian: Yeah, exactly. They were like, “Hey, do you want to stay and do the race?” The race directors were cool and said, “Yeah, you can be a part of it.” Anne-Marie [Flammersfeld] and Tim [Wortmann] from UVU are also going to run, so it’s going to be pretty cool to be here and get a chance to represent.
iRunFar: How long ago did you find out you were going to be running this?
Wardian: End of November?
iRunFar: So not quite spur of the moment. You made it sound like it was sometime last week.
Wardian: Yeah, no, it wasn’t quite like that, not like the women’s winner from last year.
iRunFar: Yeah, Wyan Chow who just decided…
Wardian: “Ah, I’m just going to run 100k.”
iRunFar: As of yesterday she was not running.
Wardian: Yeah, but she lost her luggage or something. I knew I was going to run. I knew it was part of the calendar six weeks ago.
iRunFar: I don’t know a race I’ve seen you at where you weren’t going for the win from the gun. How hard are you going to take it out? The first half of the course is much more runnable and faster.
Wardian: Yeah, that’s what it seems like. You were just saying there were seven different…
iRunFar: No, I was kind of… it took awhile last year.
Wardian: Yeah, I think there are a lot of locals who supposedly go out fast. I think based on my skillset I should do pretty well. But a lot of last year-and-a-half I’ve been doing a lot of the more mountainous stuff, so I feel I’ve been getting stronger in that.
iRunFar: Do you? When you made that transition you definitely had some rough goes out on the trail.
Wardian: Yeah, I do. Yeah, it’s just a different skillset, so it takes a little while to get used to it. I feel I’ve made a lot of progress and am more and more comfortable running those kinds of races. I’m really excited about it because it’s a lot of the things I love. You get to do some flat. You get to do some hills. You get to run on some singletrack. You get to get chased by monkeys. What else…
iRunFar: Your best success has come from on the roads in marathons as well as the 100k. What draws you to keep hitting the trails and specifically the mountain races when you’ve had better success and may have better success in other terrains.
Wardian: I love it, man. I think there is nothing better than getting to a finish line especially if that’s not your strength. I think one of the coolest moments I’ve had in the past year is finishing Diagonale des Fous in 34 hours and just… the first 17 hours were the longest 17 hours I’ve ever run. I was hobbling. Then I was able to turn it around. That’s part of the challenge is to not just do things you always excel at.
iRunFar: Something like that is as meaningful as being on the podium at World 100k?
Wardian: Oh, yeah, I think so. For me, I feel like it’s cool to get the accolades and set world records and that kind of stuff, but it’s also cool to just go out there and push yourself and see if you can do it. I like building up and seeing if I can keep improving. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do that. To get to be a part of these things is really special. I don’t think I ever want to just settle into just doing one thing. I think that would be kind of sad to just only do things you’re good at.
iRunFar: You could be every weekend at a different road marathon, speaking at some of them…
Wardian: Yeah, I could be. That would be great, too. I love doing the roads. I love doing the trails. I love pushing people in jog strollers. I love running on treadmills.
iRunFar: Your kids are a little big to be doing that right now.
Wardian: Yeah, but what’s so cool is last weekend I took them mountain biking and I ran and they mountain biked. It was awesome. I think finding ways to keep your… I’ve been lucky to bring my kids along to a lot of these things. This year we’re going to have a lot of cool adventures. I think that being on a part of the trail scene is something I want to keep doing. I think each time I do it, I get a little better than I was the time before and learn a little more and gain a little more expertise. Yeah, I think it’s super fun and rad. I think being out there pushing the limits of what’s possible is something that drives me to get up in the morning and do the training, and hopefully it inspires other people to get out there.
iRunFar: Great to have you out here, Mike.
Wardian: Thanks, dude. It’s a pleasure being here.