To celebrate the inaugural XTERRA Kunming off-road triathlon debut on September 22 at OCT Yangzong Lake Resort, we will be sharing a series of profiles on a whole new generation of athletes embracing XTERRA and the Live More lifestyle in China.
Here we introduce you to Leti Tang…
Jing Yan Tang prefers to be called “Leti,” a name that matches her sunny and energetic disposition. Representative of a new wave of Chinese triathletes, Leti grew up competing in trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, and more. Her wide embrace of the outdoors is indicative of how popular off-road sports are in China, today. Considering that China didn’t even have a word for “triathlon” a decade ago, there has been a huge push to get youth into sports following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Until recently, it wasn’t customary to spend time or money on recreational sports, so the idea of spending a weekend swimming, biking, and running, is not just a new idea, it’s an entirely new paradigm. Club sports didn’t even begin until the late 1990’s, despite a history of great success by Chinese athletes in Olympic games and international competitions. So perhaps then, it’s no surprise that XTERRA has been embraced so quickly in this country, which is full of incredible mountain ranges, quiet lakes, and brand-new trails.
Leti, who will be competing in XTERRA Kunming off-road triathlon and sports festival on the weekend of September 21-22, is excited to be blazing new trails. Kunming’s mountains, lakes, and forests are an optimal site for an XTERRA, and the city has a rich history dating back over 2000 years to the Han dynasty, when Kunming was an important part of the Southern Silk Road. In 1908, Kunming’s port opened to foreign trade, and a university was founded in 1922. Now, the progressive city is home to more than six million people, who embrace both its rich culture and new traditions.
“XTERRA is all about creating a new way forward,” said Leti. “I’ve lived with my dad since I was a child and have had full liberty to do whatever I like,” said Leti. “My family has always been supportive of my athletic pursuits.”
While Leti was always adventurous and tried almost every outdoor pursuit, she fell in love with mountain biking.
“I used to be an introvert and prone to melancholy, but mountain biking changed that,” she said. “Now I’m open and positive and I appreciate that so much.”
In the beginning, Leti rode just to get from one place to another. Later, she met people who told her she could enter competitions, train, and race.
“That was the start of my outdoor race journey,” said Leti. “My first experience with XTERRA was in 2016 when I was invited to participate at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui. Almost immediately, I was crushed by that race. So, to hear that XTERRA was coming to China, I was so excited.”
Leti is one of China’s first elite off-road triathletes, and she takes that role seriously.
“Typically, I’m up by 6:30AM, I go for a run, and then come back and make breakfast. Rice and fruit are my favorite. My training is focused on endurance, so I swim or kayak in the afternoon, plus engage in fitness or strength training.”
Usually, Leti spends more than 20 hours a week training, and like athletes worldwide, she fuels up with an Americano on race morning, adding an extra shot of espresso to her coffee.
“When I’m not training, I love cooking and hanging out with my friends,” she said. “But all of my hobbies revolve around sports. Most of my friends have the same lifestyle as I do and we all love the adventurous life.”
In preparation for XTERRA Kunming, Leti has been doubling down on her skills and race prep.
“It’s such an honor to be one of the first woman elite XTERRA athletes in China,” she said. “I’m going to keep participating in XTERRA and telling everyone about it. I think it will be amazing to watch XTERRA grow in China.”