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Cultivating Self-Love and Confidence: #SunriseGatherings with Wellness Brand Owner Teodora Lazarova

#SunriseGathering with Shiho, Moontrekker finisher

Today, I wanted to interview one of my stunning and inspiring friends, Shiho, to talk about her experience completing a 30 km night race called the Barclays MoonTrekker.
Not only once, but it was her second time!
For this first MHC #SunriseGathering (aka morning “coffee”), we met at The Coffee Academics, over a flat white and a matcha oat latte (of course I forgot to snap a picture of that!). We chatted about what the MoonTrekker is, and we dove into her personal experience as a second time “trekker” in 2023, six years after her first steps through this dusk-till-dawn epic trail. 

Do you think it was easier 6 years ago or this time round? Let’s find out! 

1. All you need to know about the MoonTrekker 

The MoonTrekker: A trail event 

First of all, The MoonTrekker is a trail event (and not a running event, just to be precise!), and its particularity is : it starts at night… Participants are expected to reach Lantau Peak summit before sunrise to enjoy one of Hong Kong’s most famous dawn views. (around 6 am).
The motivation is: “Can you beat the sun?” and reach Lantau peak before sunrise? How thrilling!
There are 2 departures:
1/ the 40k is the longer course and it starts at 8pm;
2/ the 30k starts (depending on the category but) at 10 pm. 

Can we talk about the dreaded Lantau Peak?!

Lantau Peak has big steps. Many big steps. If I recall well, Shiho used the word #brutal to describe its ascension. 

For those of you who have climbed it before, I am sure you know what we are saying! And for those who don’t yet: Lantau Peak comes with an elevation of 934 meters above sea level. Brutal, indeed!

And this is why this part of the trail, is the most dreaded one by the participants. 

Moontrekker buddies, Shiho and Claire 💪

Trekking buddies 

Signing up for the MoonTrekker requires you to register with a training partner. Obviously, a night trail could be a little challenging and the organizer warns you not to do it on your own. Besides making sense for safety purpose, it also means, budding up with a friend, a partner, a co-worker and lift each other up.

MoonTrekker sponsors

The main sponsor is Barclays. And as Shiho is part of Barclays, she was part of the organizing team there. An event such as the MoonTrekker is a great opportunities for sponsors to add branding at the start and finish line.
At that finish line, sponsors provide some food and beverage, and one of the fun part of planning the event is to think about how to reward all the participants with good food such as healthy snacks, “raw bites” and delicious smoothies from Blend & Grind.

2. Tips if you are traveling from overseas to participate in the MoonTrekker 

Straight from the CBD of Tokyo to the vertiginous stairs by Lantau peak! 

Six years ago, while Shiho was living in Tokyo, her boss back then talked about “The MoonTrekker” as he was planning his expedition. And she thought “Oh, that sounds fun!”  So, out of curiosity, and being married but with no kid at that time (a no brainer for spontaneous travel), she joined the challenge with much enthusiasm. She had no idea about how the trail looked like, nor what to expect from Hong Kong weather, which, in hindsight, realized she should have checked! (Err, humidity, you said?!) 

 Shiho at her first MoonTrekker in 2017 

The MoonTrekker experience, as a non Hong Kong resident 

As Shiho commented, it was a crazy idea just coming here for three days to walk that night trail. And at the same time, a very fun memory! Her husband tagged along the trip, mostly for mental support! and just a day in advance for a bit of sightseeing.

For the 2017 Moon Trekker, Shiho signed up for the 30k, and physically, she felt confident enough to just show up without any on-site preparation. 

Her fitness routine in Japan at that time, included : running, going to gym, surfing, playing volleyball. Hiking? Yes, but no nippon landscape could ever prepare her to the dimension of Hong Kong mountains!

3. An inspiring MoonTrekker experience from a mom’s perspective

“As a mom, I tend to think that I cannot really do the things I used to do before. But I wanted to still believe that I could do what I want to do! Even though I have a kid.
I had to work on my time management. It is not easy every day, but it’s possible!
And I involved my daughter in the process. She would ask me ‘Mom are you going to the race? You need to win!’. She would encourage me!
In addition, I see it as an inspiration for her to develop a positive mindset. For her to see me working towards a goal is helping me and also building her character.” 

As a second time MoonTrekker… 

This time, since Shiho has now been living in Hong Kong for about 3 years, and was even part of the organizing team at Barclays (the main sponsor of the MoonTrekker), she was definitely better prepared. 

From being able to train on the actual route during the week-ends, to being accustomed to the local weather, and having in mind the 2017 past experience… she signed up for the trail with positivity and excitement. 

Also, for Shiho, beyond the physical challenge the MoonTrekker represents, she set this goal for herself, as a proof that, as a busy working mom now, she can still craft time for herself in her schedule, push herself and feel strong. 

And this is the part that I am so inspired by! *sparkly eyes, listing to Shiho, while sipping matcha!* 

So… was it easier this time compared to your first Moon Trekker Experience? 

“It wasn’t easier, but I was more prepared”.
It just reminds me what they say about parenting. It doesn’t get easier, you just become better at it.
If Shiho had to pick a word to describe her 2023 MoonTrekker experience, it would be:
accomplishment. The feeling of “I did it!” And knowing you accomplish something that not everybody does (this time the number of participants went up to 1,700 with 1,400 actual show ups).  

You plan for something and you take one step at a time towards your goal, until you see that finish line.

4. Get ready for the MoonTrekker 2024! 

Some tips for those willing to join the MoonTrekker this year  

How to best prepare for an event like that? 

– Study your schedule first! See how much time you can afford for the training and then you prep yourself doing some short walks first and build you resistance gradually. 

– On a daily basis: don’t take the bus or transport, or at least, not all the way. Walk instead for three kilometers.

– If you don’t have time to go for a 2 or 3-hour hike, just go for Violet Hill. Its intensity is a great prep workout for your legs.
– In addition, Shiho trains regularly at H Kore, for strength training on a reformer machine, 

And for the few month preceding the MoonTrekker, she doubled her dose, going twice a week to H Kore classes. 

Book your recovery treatment, guys! 

What about, post-trail? Is there anything you did after to recover?
I went for a deep tissue massage. Not just any massage but I really wanted a professional treatment. And my go-to place to do that is at UP!health. My therapist there (Petra) has great experience, namely working with professional tennis players, such as Venus Williams.

Thank you Shiho for sharing your experience,

Take care!

Joëlle & The MHC Team 

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About The Author

Joëlle Smaniotto
Joëlle aims to bring a fresh perspective to wellness and make it more attainable. The inspiration behind My Healthy Cities comes from her own experience as a health and wellness professional living the expat life, but also as someone willing to improve her lifestyle and relying on a supportive community to do so.
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