Photo courtesy of Catherine Duque
Standing all of 5 feet tall, Catherine Duque's slight frame and cheery demeanour belies a burning competitive streak that has seen the part-time domestic helper assemble an impressive CV that includes some of the biggest races in the Hong Kong endurance running circuit.
Among such competitions under her belt include the LT70 Lantau Trail Race, the treacherous 9 Dragons Race, as well as a "funny and unexpected" victory in the 2017 Sea to Summit Race.
In addition to being a prolific endurance runner, Duque is also an avid touch rugby player, spending a few hours every Sunday honing her skills with the Hong Kong Exiles.
However, the Filipina has only ever had eyes for one competition- the Spartan Race- a gruelling course consisting of challenging obstacles designed with the specific purpose of pushing racers to their cardiovascular and muscular limits.
While Duque has competed in the competitive category in the past (a cut above the Open Category with tougher and more numerous challenges), this edition of the Race may well be her crowning achievement.
The 31-year-old's race time of 1:43:50 was sufficient to place her 2nd in her age group, making her the 5th-fastest woman on the course as well as the first Filipina to attain a podium finish.
"It was the greatest experience I've ever had," said Duque, a qualified nurse by trade.
"The new Spartan race is more challenging with new obstacles being added, so it is the best result among all the Spartan Races I have done since I moved from the Open to the Competitive Group."
Despite this breakthrough result, surprisingly little Spartan-specific preparation had gone into the lead-up to this year's race.
"I had almost no training or preparation for this race due to my busy weekend schedule, focusing more on other sports and outdoor adventures."
"This unexpected podium can only motivate me to train and improve, so that one day I may even be qualified to be a Spartan Elite!" she added.
Find out more about Catherine Duque in the upcoming Spring edition of our e-magazine!