Andes LH Leung is ultra-marathon runner, co-founders and the CEO of RunOurCity. He has completed 70 full marathons and ultra-marathons, summing up to over 5,000 km.
RunOurCity has organized running events for over 110,000 participants, raised funds for over 27 charities and trained over 10,000 teenagers..
Here is a short video on his life journey. Read his full story to know the challenges and learning he shared while starting the company , the best and worst ultra marathon experience he had and his message to the people who want to start running.
Here are the details of the interaction between Andes and team of Inspirational Beings
Please tell us about your childhood and background?
I was born into a childhood of poverty, living in public government estate along with parents, and 3 elder sisters. I did bachelors in business administration from Hong Kong Baptist University. I got my MBA at the University of Adelaide and Doctorate in Business administration from Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
I worked for 20 years in advertising, public relations and management and was head of sales in the listed company.
Now, I am one of the co-founders and the CEO of RunOurCity, a social enterprise with the aim to promote health, confidence, and stamina for the youth through running.
I have practiced running for over 20-years, my running history includes, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) 100 miles, and 4 Desert Race Series: The Last Desert 116km (Antarctica), Gobi March 250 km, Sahara Race 250 km, and Atacama Crossing 250 km. From Nov 2014, I finished one marathon a month, totally 12 marathons covering 7 continents around the world. I have published two books to narrate my experience on my marathon journeys.
We all at RunOurCity have similar success stories.
How and why your passion for running has developed?
During my school and college days, I was always under pressure to get good grades; there was thought running in my background that if I don't get good grades then I won't be able to afford admission to a private university.
My fear manifested, my score in my advanced level examination was not good enough to get me admission in any of my preferred universities. I did not know what to do and decided to re-appear to that exam again by taking a break for a year. This was the toughest time for me as the feeling of worthlessness started cropping in my mind and seeing my classmates going ahead of me made me depressed more.
I wanted to run away from my problems. I started running to avoid facing my despair and stress. When I was running, it gave me a feeling that I was out of my problems. As I continued running, it helped me to calm down my mind. Over the period, my confidence and self-esteem increased tremendously, which helped me to handle the tough phase of my life as well as helped to concentrate on my studies. Thereafter, I never ever left running.
What inspired you to co-found a social enterprise RunOurCity which promotes running and health? What's unique about your mission?
As a passionate runner, I lead by example, and I strongly believe that running can help transform a life. Running develops self-confidence, perseverance, and physical strengths, it also builds focus, discipline, and social skills. I earnestly wanted to pass the benefits of running to others.
It was Gobi March, a 250Km desert race, where all my thoughts and feelings transpired into a discussion with my good friends Leong and Francis, who were also running with me.
We observed that youth in Hong Kong are facing a lot of challenges and we observe that they are relatively weak in dealing with adversities. Both physical and psychological health issues are found in the younger generation.
All three of us like running and we know how running improves our mindset and attitude towards life. We then decided to start a social enterprise about running. Leong founded this idea, I left my job and we started our work through RunOurCity.
What makes our mission unique is all three of us and our teams follow & practice what we teach!
Our mission has created so many life-transforming stories. We have witnessed, just in 8-week running training sessions, attended by teenagers, drug addicts, youth at risk and people having very low confidence, show immense attitudinal improvements.
Our mission has succeeded in embarking faith to the society that Running builds perseverance and gives freedom from all the worries and anxiety.
What are some of the key challenges that you faced in this unconventional route as your profession? What did you learn from those challenges?
When we started our mission of giving free running and fitness training we first approached schools. We thought with such good and free training programs, we would get very positive feedback from students, parents, and school. But the response was not encouraging; students were preoccupied with many activities along with their studies. Sports and fitness through running were not on their priority list.
Another challenge was when we were organizing our first race to raise fund for RunOurCity. The whole process was a disaster! We did not have the Knowledge or the experience to work out a scaled race. We were planning the race only from a runner's point of view. We were too naïve. Our scaled race involved road closure, which involved a lot of approval process and license procedures with various government departments. Money was another issue. We had underestimated the budgetary requirements for organizing such a scaled race.
We learned that we cannot get perfect at the start. We need to start and then get better over the period by overcoming the challenges. We realized the need for strategies and plans. Learning and improving are ongoing processes.
Which are the best and worst experience(s) on your running journey of 5000 km?
I would say my Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is one of the best experiences so far. It is the most signature trail race in the world. It is a 170 km with 10,000 m total ascend to circle round Mont Blanc passing amazing views through mountains of France, Italy, and Switzerland. The whole process from collecting points for registration, practice, the race, fighting with your pain and race, and finally as a finisher. An amazing experience in totality.
My worst experience would be Gobi March by Racing the Planet. It is a self-supported desert race for 250km in 7-days. I felt it was the worst because I had to undergo the repercussions of my mistakes. For running a race in the desert, we need high-level preparation and planning. I had to starve for a few days as I had very limited food without the right nutrition. I do admit I learned a lot out of that experience.
What is the definition of success to you?
Being able to do what I love to do, and ensuring positive impacts on others through my work.
How do you keep your motivation up in your low time, when you feel like giving up?
When situations and tasks look tough & challenging, I remind myself of the reason why I started the task in the first place. Secondly, I don't ponder on the problem and take the first step towards a solution; running helps a lot to develop this attitude.
What's your mantra in life?
Life should be a happy experience. Work with a positive mindset and give your full efforts. Fight all the challenges without thinking about the enormity of the challenge.
What's your future plan?
Inspiring teenagers and adults in more fruitful ways. Making it a sustainable business by developing optimism and youthfulness, and finally bringing RunOurCity to the international level.
What's your message to viewers?
Practice patience, when you start running you realize the importance of practice. You must give time to increase your stamina. At the same time, running is a lifetime experience. Don't just focus on the speed.
You need to open your mind to feel your environment and feel about yourself. Learn to enjoy whatever life has to offer whether it is easy or tough situations, happy or sad experiences.
It is about conquering the BELIEF within you and getting the best out of yourself in a long term sustainable way. Always support others, enjoy the route and run with full heart.
Running helped Andes to transform him as a person - Earlier he was running away from his problems but now he is running towards "helping others to achieve their dreams!"
This story is supported by
8th grade student,
Adams Traditional Academy School, Phoenix, USA.