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 ATG Workshop Speakers?

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Charlotte Cutler

1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your running journey - how and when did you start running?

I joined my first athletics club aged 12 and have been racing ever since - that was 35 years ago! I loved sprints and my sports teacher at school encouraged me to join the local athletics club. I started off as a sprint hurdler, moving up to 400m hurdles throughout university and then up to 800/1500m in my 20s. I was an avid 800m runner when I moved to Hong Kong in 2007 and competed in every track meet and road race I could find. I've represented Hong Kong at 800 and 1500m, won the Standard Chartered 10K, and became Asian Masters champion for age group 1500m in 2017. I've also become closely involved in the refugee charity RUN, acting as head coach for their running team. This has revealed the healing power of running more than any amount of training or racing I've ever done.

2) How and why did you switch from track to trail running?

30-odd years of intensive track and road training has brought with it a fair share of injuries. I've suffered from chronic achilles problems for 15 years and started running on the trails a couple of years to help with cross-training. I entered my first proper trail race - the Greenpower 25K - in 2018 and managed to win it. I loved the race and became hooked! I've since joined the Gone Running-Joint Dynamics trail team and was part of their women's team who competed in the Oxfam Trailwalker 100K last year. This was a big step up for me as I had never run more than 21K in one go before 2018.

I haven't abandoned the track altogether - I still incorporate regular track sessions in my training (injuries permitting). I'm a big believer in quality over quantity and personally find that a strong speed base helps me with the longer trail races. Track training doesn't just hone your speed, it enhances overall running efficiency which is crucial for any type of running event.

3) What are the key topics you will be covering at the ATG Workshop?

2 key things:

a) The benefits of track for those keen to take up trail running - running efficiency, speed-work, group training, etc.

b) Transitioning to trail from the road/track - I still consider myself a novice on the trails and am woeful on very technical sections. I hope that some of the lessons I've learned may be of use to new trail runners.

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4) What are you hoping for women to take away from your session?

You're never too old to take up trail running! In fact, you're never too old to take up any type of running. I hope the women will feel more confident about trying new events and will pick up some tips to incorporate in their own training.

5) Apart from your own presentation which other sessions are you most excited about?

All of it! I'm looking forward to hearing the 4 Trails women speak - those ladies are legends. And the session on Women's Health - it's really important for women to understand the issues that uniquely affect them, especially as they get older and after having children. I've raced and trained through two pregnancies and have had to adopt an entirely new approach to training in my 40s.

6) If you could give one piece of advice to women who enjoy running what would it be?

Keep going! This is a phrase my old track coach used to shout at us when we on the verge of collapsing in his sessions. I used to curse him at the time but I've found myself muttering his words to myself when I'm hitting low points in races. Whether you're running your first race or you're about to hit a huge climb when you already have 80K in your legs, just tell yourself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Focus on the next step, not the rest of the race. 

(PC: Photo1: Kin Wa Yick; Photo2: David Wong)

Asia Trail Girls