Fredelyn Alberto, is a 30 year runner originally from the flatlands of Bulinao Santo Tomas, in the Philippines, but now based in mountainous Hong Kong. She recently featured in a New York Times article on balancing life as a domestic worker with ultra running and has scored many wins and multiple podiums since she began trails in 2016.
In the New York Times article you said: “On weekdays, people say, ‘Oh, you’re a domestic helper………. On weekends, on the trails, they say, ‘Oh, you’re a good runner.’ What does running mean to you?
For me, Running is a cure.
Running makes me more alive and healthy in both mind and body.
It has helped me so much boosting my confidence, especially as there is a big barrier between employers and helpers in Hong Kong.
When I run I don’t have to worry about what other people think. Running helps people respect each other, no matter what their status. They do not think that I am a helper and they are employers. It’s a great way to equalize everyone. Running is my stress reliever as well. Gives me more energy to face my day to day life.
Were you sporty from a young age and what led you to running?
My town Santo Tomas doesn’t have any hills, it is all flatlands and farms including many rice fields. I have fond memories of going to the fields with my grandfather and my cousins. He taught us to work the farm; I became adventurous and learned you have to work hard for what you want, no matter how hard.
I used to play sports back in high school, but I always got injured, so I stopped for years.
The desire for adventure led me to work in Hong Kong in 2013, but I didn’t run until 2016. My inspiration was my love of nature. It is very peaceful when I get to mountains and appreciate the beauty and meet beautiful people with the same interests.
Also, there was the realization that I am good at trail running.
Congratulations on your third place at Vietnam Jungle Marathon 70km. We know you have many wins this year already, but how did it feel to cross the line after a battle with other strong runners such as Evelyn Lek and Veronika Vadovicova?
Thank you. VJM was one of the best ultra race experiences I have had. The fields and rice paddies reminded me of home and the locals were very supportive, giving wide smiles and cheering while they were harvesting rice under the sun. Although I couldn’t understand the Vietnam language, I am still grateful for those moments.
VJM was tough because of the weather. This year I have been blessed with wins at GHURKA TRAILBLAZER. TGR BRAEMAR HILL 45KM and THE MOON 100 as well as second at THE 9 DRAGONS 50miles.
During those races, I faced great and strong runners. I was not scared because my only battle was with myself. If others are stronger, why can’t I be stronger too?
When I saw Veronika Vadovicova on the starting list of VJM, I said to myself that I will just do my best and finish the race injury free and still can hold a big smile crossing the finish line.
I met Evelyn Lek during the TGR TAI PO ULTRA. She is also a tough lady, but I think I am stronger on single day and short distance. She has the higher endurance for longer distances.
Crossing the finish line was best feeling because I was thinking about how I suffered so much climbing the tough terrain and the heat management for how many long hours. It was an amazing and rewarding feeling. Being on the podium was a big bonus. It’s the reward for the hard work.
What is a typical day of your life in Hong Kong and how do you get the training miles in?
I must say that I am fortunate now to work in way more flexible environment. I don’t have to worry about getting up very early and going to sleep late. I can do short distance running before work and add more cross-fit training in between as long as I fulfill the demands of my tasks everyday.”
In Hong Kong you have plenty of access to hills – what is a typical training?
Hong Kong is the best playground for runners; it is very accessible – open your door and boom the mountain is there waving.
A typical training week for me is 5km in the morning 3 times a week and running with team at night or with my buddy and cross-fit 2 times a week.
Sometimes, the team organize for a long night runs over the weekend. If I have no race coming up, I spend most of the weekend with my buddy – either we hike or jog through the mountains on Hong Kong trails.
Do you train alone or in groups?
Most of the time I train with other people, or with my running buddy. I don’t really train long distance. When I train with my Filipino team “BANDILANG PINAS” we do it at night. We laugh, we share how our day gone, tips for running. I also have a running buddy, sometimes if I don’t train with my team, we run together short distances as part of our healthy lifestyle and as stress reliever. . He advises me so much about running and I am so grateful to have these people helping me mould myself with my passion to get stronger and giving me positive outlook in life.
Back to VJM, what made you decide to come to Vietnam to run VJM?
I saw VJM on the ATM site and after CMU back in March, I decided to join races around Asia. I found out that the joy of running in different countries is more precious and more memorable. And because of running, I manage to get to beautiful places and explore different cultures and meet beautiful people. I searched on Youtube for the previous videos of VJM and I was mesmerized by the beauty of Pu Luong. It reminds me of my hometown with the views of the rice fields.”
What advice would you give to first time VJM 70k runners?
Enjoy the heavenly place. Be wise. Drink enough water, keep hydrated and cool down through the water streams to avoid dehydration or overheating.”
And what general advice would you give to someone doing their first ultra distance race?
Firstly, Just think positive. Never underestimate yourself. Believe you can do it, You can do more than you think.
Second, don’t underestimate a race. There’s always surprises, get yourself geared up and make sure you are ready and well hydrated all throughout the race.
Thirdly, don’t forget to be grateful for everything. To the people who are silently supporting you. To the organizers who lay a beautiful course for you and to the volunteers who helped you during the course. Smile back to the locals who cheer you on when you pass them.
Lastly, do you have a trail running hero or inspiration?
Yes, may. Nikki Hann,Mary Hui, Elsa Jean, Katia Kucher, John Ellis, John ray “stingray” Onifa, Jeff Campbell, Veronica V. There are so many of them.
They inspire me so much in terms of mentality. How can they overcome all the demands of the races they’ve done? How they can go fast? All these questions. I have huge respect for these runners.