lucong geng mtc jogle ultrarunning

At the MTC JOGLE: A Conversation with Asian Ultramarathon Legend Lucong Geng

Learn about the ultrarunning story behind this Asian legend.

Lucong Geng may be relatively unknown in the west, but in Asia, the 55-year-old ultrarunner is a legend. To date he has accumulated a total of 16,098 km in IAU-certified races. He has completed the La Grande Course de France twice (2019 edition: 43 days, 2,600 km; 2023 edition: 63 days, 3,600 km) and in 2022, Lucong completed the Italian Ultra Marathon Festival in 15d 22hr 25min, setting a world lead for the year over 1,000 miles.

In March 2024, Lucong made a solo trip to the United Kingdom to participate in the 17-day MTC JOGLE organized by Ultra Running Ltd, which covers 854 miles (1,374 km) with an ascent of 16,604 meters from John O'Groats to Land's End. As the only non-European in the event, Lucong finished with a time of 190hr 56min, ranking third in the URL JOGLE history, overwriting the previous Asian record of 227hr 24min.

After the race, we sat down with Lucong to discuss his ultrarunning experiences.

lucong geng mtc jogle ultrarunning

Q: You've participated in many different ultramarathon events. What was different about JOGLE this time?

I have heard about JOGLE for a long time. I believe it is the most challenging 1,000 km ultramarathon event globally, with less than 20 percent of its previous participants having finished the race. Previously, I didn't feel prepared to participate in JOGLE until I completed the 1,000-mile race in Italy in 2022. That's when I felt ready.

This indeed was the most challenging race I've participated in. Enduring the harsh March weather of the British outdoors, running in heavy rain on some days, covering 50-60 miles each day with a total ascent of over 16,000 meters. It was a huge test for every runner. Of course, along the way, I also experienced the stunning scenery of the British countryside and made many friends. The endpoint of this route is called Land's End, which feels like a magical metaphor that keeps calling me. I didn't stop moving, spending 56 hours traveling to the UK, and then taking 17 days to run to Land's End, as if I were truly heading to the end of the world.

Q: We heard that you flew for a long time to reach John O'Groats and started the MTC JOGLE challenge the very next day. We know there's an 8-hour time difference from where you came from with significantly different climates. How did you overcome these challenges?

Joy, pain, challenges, fear – these are all part of the race. As long as my legs can carry me forward, I'll persist. I don't care about jet lag. I'm here to run across Great Britain. If I think too much about the difficulties, I might not dare to take the first step. The key is how much you want to do it, which changes your perspective on difficulties.

lucong geng mtc jogle ultrarunning

Q: What training did you do for JOGLE? What attracts you to participate in such long-distance races around the world?

In the past few years, I have run 8,000 to 9,000 km every year. I don't train for specific races because I train every day, regardless of whether there's a race or not. Nothing affects my running. Running doesn't need a specific motivation for me; not running does need a compelling reason.

Running continuously for hundreds or even thousands of miles is a complex experience. I don't want to summarize it with simple adjectives like happy or painful. Of course, I enjoy racing in different countries, seeing different scenery, experiencing different cultures, and meditating during solo runs; these are the addictive parts for me.

Q: Do you have any goals you want to achieve through racing, such as winning championships or breaking records?

The purpose of my races is not to break records or win titles; running itself is the reward, and I enjoy the process of running. Based on this, I want to see where my limits are. Comparing with others has never been my goal. It's my nature; I enjoy running on the road, seeing the scenery, and enjoying my own world.

The continuous progression of the body also affects the mind. In 2022, during the 1,000-mile race in Italy, there was a moment in the middle of the night when my spirit seemed to separate from my body. My body ran ahead, while my spirit observed my body from behind. This feeling only lasted for a moment, maybe even less than a second, but it's still vivid in my memory. I think I will have more experiences like this in the future.

My idol, the Greek running god Yiannis Kouros, says that ultrarunning is an exercise in transcendence. He explicitly defines it as a test of "metaphysical characteristics," rather than innate athletic abilities or level of conditioning. The true ultrarunner must endure sleep deprivation and complete muscular fatigue. Only then can he or she "find energy after the fuel is gone." This resonates deeply with me.

lucong geng mtc jogle ultrarunning

Q: What shoes did you choose for this race?

I wore the R1 for the first four days, and then I wore the same pair of the S1s for the next consecutive 12 days. I ran 1,000 km wearing them, and on the last day, I put on a new pair of S1 to run to the finish line in a fresh state. Both of these shoes provided the perfect cushioning underfoot and kept my feet locked in place, but the S1 was more stable and gave me more protection. I like this sense of security, especially when I am very tired.

Q: Do you have any future race plans?

I want to participate in the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, called "The Mount Everest of ultramarathons" by The New York Times. That's the event I want to challenge in the short term. Perhaps after completing this race, I will plan my own routes instead of participating in races again, such as crossing the United States, but that's something for the future. I'll run until I can't anymore.