In the later months of 2021 I had the pleasure of meeting local Nelson ultra runner Nancy Jiang. I was introduced to her by the amazing photographer who has captured many of the adventuring landscape images you will see on this website. First impressions finding a quiet reserved smile, we had arranged to go for a run along the surf side of the Boulder Bank in Nelson. Such a cool evening to spite the unseasonably cold winds. Since then I have enjoyed getting to know Nancy’s incredible easy going excitement for adventure and quick witted humour.
The past couple of years have been unpredictable and difficult for race organisers as well as athletes (to say the least). Since 2020 multiple ultra trail events have been cancelled due to Covid. The Kepler Challenge (which had been postponed from 2021) just managed to squeeze in an event before New Zealand moved into RED in the NZ covid traffic light framework. Nancy having a great day out finishing second to the amazing West Coast Legend Ruth Croft.
Having few options to race between late January and mid April, Nancy took part in the National Marathon Champs road race. Not her preferred terrain or distance, she managed to clean the course in a very respectable 2h 51.53 taking home bronze.
My last visit with Nancy was in May when she popped around to stock up on a few fresh pieces of merino and socks. It has been awesome to have her as one of the first to try the Yank Performance Quarter socks. Having a pair of feet that cover such vast amounts of diverse terrain is ideal when looking for ‘feedback of performance’. She has since departed to spend the New Zealand winter racing in Europe. She was more than happy to be part of a ‘Question an Answer’ to share a little bit about herself and the adventure she is currently on.. scroll down to read more >>
Q - For the introduction.. where do you come from?
A - Hi, I'm Nancy. I was born in China, and moved to NZ when I was 5. I grew up in Auckland, and am currently living in Nelson (NZ)
Q - How did you get into running?
A - I started running as part of the primary school PE (physical education) class. I remember running bare feet on the grass in the mornings and loving it.
Q - How long you have been running for?
A - Since primary school, when I was about 7/8. I competed in inter school cross country and athletics and joined the Waitakere Athletics club at the end of primary. But halfway through high school, I lost interest in running competitively. I picked it up again after university when a work colleague and me had a beat going in the auckland marathon. I kept running after the race.
Q - When did you depart for this latest racing adventure?
A - I have been in France since mid June. It feels good to be back in the french alps for another stint.
Q - How long do you plan to be away?
A - I will be based in the french alps training for CCC at this year's UTMB until late August. After the race, we will head to Les Gets to spectate the UCI Downhill World Champ before a short holiday in Rome for a lot of Gelato and pizza eating then back to Nelson.
Q - What races are on your itenerary?
A - My ‘A’ race is CCC at UTMB in Chamonix France. Techincally my race starts in Courmayeur Italy and the plan is to run to Chamonix as fast as I can. I like to do a few training races brefore hand to get myself mentally ready for the A race. This year I raced High Trail Vanoise - 6 Cols which is 45km with 3500m of vert and Trail de la Rosiere which is 40km and 3000m of vert.
Q - What racing highlights have you had so far?
A - The first race over here is always a bit of a shock to the system. Big mountains and big climbs at altitude. But I am pretty pleased with how i raced in the two lead up races. The key is to always smile and enjoy it.
Q - What do you like to do when you are not out punishing the running trails?
A - I brought my mountain bike over. So on rest days I am on the downhill tracks with my bike
Q - Do you have a profession outside of sport?
A - I'm a Structural Engineer.
Q - Is Structural Engineering something you are able to do while you are travelling?
A - I am actually working remotely. the company I work for has been very accommodating with allowing me to be here in europe and work remotely. It also prevents me from over training and gives me something else to focus on other than running. Balance is always good.
Q - What has been the best part of your trip so far?
A - All of it. I'm just so grateful to be back here after not being able to travel for two years.
Q - What is your favourite most decadent post adventure treat?
A - A big crepe with three scopes of ice cream, chocolate sauce and cream
Q - Where would you go for the best crepe and ice cream?
A - The ice cream parlour at the bottom of the lifts in La Thuile, Italy. Nothing beats italian ice cream. Their scoops are generous and its always homemade.
Q - List the 5 most important items in your race kit & why.
A - Water with electrolytes - hydration is super important at altitudeWaterproof jacket - also very important when in the mountains with the weather.My running poles - without them my legs will be destroyed on the climbsNutrition - my favourites at the moment are either brioche bread or crepe with peanut butter and honey, semi dried bananas and a sport drink mix and gelsMy phone - so i dont get lost
Q - What goals do you have in sight for 2023?
A - No current goals yet. I want to focus on the 'now' and my current A race.
Thank you so much Nancy for taking time to share about your adventures!! Wishing you all the best as race day is quickly approaching. 🤩 Safe travels to you and all of those who are travelling along with you for support. 💓
Be sure to find Nancy on Instagram if you would like to follow along with her adventures and racing.