Jiasheng Shen, 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Champion, Interview

At only 24 years old, Jiasheng Shen already had a very strong resume in China, but, now, he’s shown the world what he’s capable of in winning the 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. In our first interview with him, Jiasheng talks about his running history, what his strategy was for this race, and where you might see him race next.

Be sure to read our results article for the full race story.

Jiasheng Shen, 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jiasheng Shen after his win at the 2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. Congratulations!

Jiasheng Shen: Thank you.

iRunFar: You had an amazing race. There are so many great names—Long-Fei Yan and Jing Liang. Here you are, the winner.

Shen: I’m really happy that I can have the honor to race with all these world class runners no matter if they’re from China or overseas. They pushed me to win this race.

iRunFar: Did you dream you could win this race today?

Shen: I thought about it, but I was okay to think that no matter win or not, champion or not, I’d try my best.

iRunFar: In the first part of the race, Long-Fei Yan, he and Liang ran to the front. Did you think the race for the win was over?

Shen: My strategy was based on that today was quite hot by my standards. I tried to push the leading group to run together with him. I wanted the people who are not used to the Hong Kong heat to suffer and burn out.

iRunFar: When did you know you’re in first place because you came to the lead when the other runner was off course? How did you find out you were in first position?

Shen:  At checkpoint 1, I was fifth, and from there to checkpoint 5 I moved to the third position. From there I tried to go up gradually. In checkpoint 6, I was in leading position.

iRunFar: Once you were in first position, did you run with happiness or were you scared? What were your emotion?

Shen:  I was nervous. I was at the press conference yesterday and saw so many world class runners. I was so nervous, and I wasn’t even on the stage. I was not on the stage because the organizer only chose two runners from China who could represent the highest level from China.

iRunFar: Did that motivate you to make yourself known because you weren’t chosen to be one of the Chinese on stage?

Shen: I prepared for this race for two months. Actually, I decreased my training running distance to just prepare for this race.

iRunFar: You’re very young for an ultramarathon runner. How did you start running ultramarathons?

Shen: I started running when I was 14, so nine years already. I grew up in Yunnan province in the southern part of China. My family’s living conditions are not that good, not rich. I ran a lot when I was young. I’d run four kilometers with a few 100 meters elevation. Where I grew up was over 2,000 meters of elevation. Maybe that can explain.

iRunFar: You ran all that time. Did you run in track and field or road marathons?

Shen: Before I became a trail runner, I used to train for marathons and had a 2:26 marathon time.

iRunFar: Did you run in track and field before that?

Shen: Before I tried for marathons, I trained for the track. Now I train by myself.

iRunFar: Do you still live in Yunnan province?

Shen: Yes, I still live there.

iRunFar: It’s good preparation for hot races?

Shen: Actually, I’m not used to the weather conditions. Where I grew up is pretty dry and it’s like spring. Here is very hot and humid, so I suffer, but I still push myself.

iRunFar: Now that you’ve had a great performance on the world stage here in Hong Kong, are there other races around the world you dream of running?

Shen: Yes, I was at OCC last year. Something happened until the last 2k. I was sixth, but I ended up further down. That was my first trail running race overseas.

iRunFar: This year, do you dream of other races?

Shen: I’m signed up for CCC this year.

iRunFar: Yes? I think that will be exciting to see you challenge even more of the world’s best.

Shen: Thank you.

iRunFar: They should be scared.

Shen: Thank you. I will learn from all these top runners.

iRunFar: Congratulations.

Shen: Thank you.

There are 2 comments

  1. Brian

    HK100 has been successful in attracting the top mainland talents for the last few years. The international exposure has basically made this the de facto debutante race for mainland runners to the rest of the world. It’s no coincidence both male/female top 3 finishers this year are all mainland Chinese. Expect this trend to continue.

    As IRF alluded to the intro Shen is already well-known within the Chinese ultra community. His cohort and training partner Min Qi was last year’s winner. You now see a lot of these former government sport school athletes leave the system transitioning to running trail races. That’s one reason why some of the these runners hail from Yunnan since many national teams train there including surrounding, regional countries like Japan due to the high elevation.

    Part of the issue is the mainland ultra community is relatively insular and diffuse. Even though the oldest ultra races there are getting into double digits there isn’t a single race with the cachet to attract all the top local talents. There is no equivalent mainland marquee race like HK100, with the accompanying media exposure, and so the rest of the ultra community will continue to be introduced to top mainland runners through HK100.

  2. Sabine

    Thanks, Bryon, for your great coverage of the race.

    With regards to OCC, there was either a translation error or Shen mixed something up: He was in third position at OCC and ended up in sixth position.

Post Your Thoughts