And while that gathering will have to wait until next year, the Live More spirit of XTERRA lives on in the people and to commemorate the day, we connected with one of them, the courageous Connie Hsu.
“Everything is okay here in Taiwan compared to the current situation in the world,” said Hsu. “We still worry about this crisis and its impact, and we pray for all humans. The best thing we can do now is stay positive, appreciate life, and be kind to others.”
Hsu was born and raised in the countryside of Taichung in central Taiwan. Her childhood was spent playing in nature: climbing trees, fishing, and biking with her brothers and cousins. “When I was little, my memories of Kenting are of the beaches and the night market, but there are also lots of beautiful mountains to discover in the region and that is my favorite place to be,” said Hsu. “Taiwan is a small country but has amazing scenery, and the people here are friendly and always to try to help.”
One of the biggest helpers in Connie’s athletic and spiritual life is Chung-Yi Lin, aka Svenson, one of the pioneers for XTERRA in Taiwan. “A few years ago I was having a hard time, I wasn’t happy and just felt lost. At that time my friend invited me to go to Kenting to visit a coach called Svenson, and have a relaxed road biking vacation there,” explained Hsu. “Well, the weather at the time wasn’t very good, so we didn’t bike on the road but Svenson took us on trail runs instead, and it was so powerful. I felt peace come over me and I loved the beauty of nature even though I’m not a good runner.”
Svenson then introduced Hsu to mountain biking.
“I was hesitant because I thought mountain biking would be very dangerous, but Svenson promised me it would be safe. And so I tried to be courageous and try, and I fell in love with it. It inspired my passion for biking again like when I was a child.”
“I will never forget the view from the top of Mt. Menmaluo the first time I rode there on my mountain bike. It was a rainy day and I was riding with coach and some friends. I just stood there at the top, and looked down on the small village in the valley below through the fresh air and the fog. I was stunned, it was so unreal, and I felt like I was healed somehow.”
From that day on Hsu continued to connect with nature, and Svenson, helping to produce XTERRA training camps in Kenting, work on course trails, all while honing her off-road triathlon skills.
In September of 2019, Hsu competed in her first XTERRA in Kunming.
“I was terrified,” she exclaimed. “Especially of the swimming part. In 2013 I tried two road triathlons and I didn’t finish either one, because of the swim, and then I quit for five years. But the XTERRA coaches were there for me this time, and taught me how.”
Hsu was one of the last racers out of the water, but she did it, and once on the bike she was reveling in the challenge and filled with energy from her coaches cheering her on.
“My mentor Svenson was waiting for me at the finish line and he yelled at me, ‘Connie, Run! I want to see you cry at the finish. And well…I did cry, because it was so hard to complete this race, and Janet Clark (XTERRA President) hugged me, and I couldn’t stop my tears. I was so happy, because this was the first time I completed a triathlon.”