Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Felix Wong: living his dream

Two years ago Felix Wong ran the Davy Crockett Marathon in Crockett, Texas, on a Saturday. His time of 3 hours and 12 minutes was good enough for first place. The next day he ran another 26.2 miles in the Big D Marathon in Dallas in 4:40—not good enough to win.  But he had such a good time that last September he decided to do another back-to-back marathon weekend.
            “I hadn’t done a marathon in 18 months and I hadn’t averaged more than 30 miles of training a week, but here was an opportunity too good to pass up,” Wong insists. He’s working on running a marathon in all 50 states and here were two, in two different states, on two consecutive days. He finished 18th overall in Bismarck, North Dakota, then jumped into his car and drove to Billings, Montana to compete in the Montana Marathon the following day.
            He drove alone, immersing himself in the study of Mandarin on a CD, and enjoying the great scenery.  “No distractions,” he says. “I’m brushing up on my French so I spent some time on it as well.” He’d planned to camp out on his trip but work deadlines forced him into more traditional lodging.
            Who is this guy, and what makes him tick?
            Born of parents who grew up in China and emigrated to Canada before moving to the U.S, Felix grew up the second of three brothers in rural Southern  California. His world opened up when he bought a bike for $5 at a garage sale and discovered the freedom to go.  He borrowed a “better bike” to do his first century ride as a senior in high school, an experience that made him more than a little saddle sore and cemented a lifetime commitment to long distance exercise.
            A degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford led to a stint in the semiconductor industry, and seven years ago to relocation to Fort Collins, Colorado where he consults and has time to indulge his love of  outdoor sports and travel. He chose his new home carefully, researching scores of towns in 19 states and Canada until he found the one that matched up with his list of qualifications.
            The hardest thing he’s ever done? The Tour Divide bicycle ride from Canada to Mexico, 2,700 miles in 27 days including encounters with wipeouts, wrong turns, and starvation. At one point he found himself so desperate for food that he flagged down a car. The Pepsi and half a hamburger he was given lasted him until another traveler took him home for dinner. The following day he subsisted on tortillas, soup and peanuts before he found a town with a grocery store. “I learned to be better prepared,” he said.
            Wong has completed three dozen marathons, two hundred-mile runs and countless shorter runs and long distance bike rides. He returns to California several times a year to visit family and touch base with a major client. He never regrets the time and effort he invested in escaping the California rat race and choosing Fort Collins as his home.
            To enjoy Wong’s delightful descriptions of his adventures go to


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