2014 Hong Family Christmas Challenge

Game faces at the start of the Hong Family Challenge!

Dad and Danny: game faces!

One of the best parts of the Christmas Season is participating in family traditions. This year I forced the family to participate in what I call the Hong Family Challenge (HFC) for the third year in a row. There has been some grumbling about this event – for good reasons I will explain – but this year it went really well and I think it’s caught on to where I’m confident it will become a tradition. I’m so excited!

The HFC is the 1.35 mile loop that starts in front of our house. It goes on the road for about 1/3 a mile down the hill. Then it turns on a trail up the hill for about 2/3 a mile. It finishes with another downhill 1/3 mile of road. It has a cumulative elevation gain of 280 feet. It’s not an easy course. Especially if you are 5 years old. I often use it as a bench mark for how good of shape I’m in and if I PR the course I award myself with a new pair of trail shoes :-). The current record is 9:30 set on June 2, 2014 during my taper for the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k.

The Christmas version of the challenge takes place around 8:00 AM on Christmas morning and involves anyone who is staying at the Hong home. After everyone wakes up on Christmas morning, looks at what Santa has brought us, and go through our Christmas stockings we run the challenge before any other presents are opened. I find that the eagerness to open more gifts is a great motivator for peak performance from the children. I also have to admit that I take a certain satisfaction in being a cruel dad in the name of trying to teach these kids to delay a little of their gratification.

I keep a google spreadsheet of the results so that we can track how we do from year to year. I’m really excited to see how the kids times change as they grow up.


Aunt Becky and Kaylee ready to go


Mom is looking particularly speedy

This year was the best Hong Family Challenge ever. We all set PRs and Kaylee(5) finished the entire course by herself for the very first time. Danny(8) beat his time from last year by 3:50. Carrie also set a PR and Aunt Becky participated for the first time and was instrumental in coaching Kaylee throughout the race as they ran together. She helped Kaylee set short goals to run portions of the course and invented awesome games like jumping on each plank on the bridge to keep it fun.

I ran my first loop with Danny and pushed Abby Jo in the stroller so she could complete her first HFC. Danny pushed incredibly hard through the hills and it was inspiring to see the determination on his face as he pushed on when it got hard. After dropping off Danny at home I cheered Carrie across the finish line and handed her the baby. Then I went to find Becky and Kaylee who had gotten a bit lost and added some bonus distance to their run. I ran with them as they completed the HFC. Then I took off on my own loop and finished in 10:02 – a Christmas Day PR for me – although not a overall PR for the loop.

The weather was perfect – cool and dry. Everyone was excited about their race and we had fun bragging on each other throughout the day. We are already getting excited for the 2015 version and planning on how we can be ready to PR again. Is it an official Hong Family Tradition? I think yes!


I set another record on the HFC on April 13, 2015. Here is the track on Strava – it’s the middle section – https://www.strava.com/activities/284749644.


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