The first Chinese man to complete the gruelling Seven Deserts race series, ultra-marathon runner Derek Kwik has conquered more tough physical challenges than most. A venture capitalist by day, still manages to find time to volunteer with the SPCA, in-between running and business travel. He talks to Liv about why he runs.
Running was never really about the act of running, but more about being able to outlast an intense challenge.
I have always been attracted to physically extreme sports activities that others assume cannot be done. My very first long distance event was the 100 km Oxfam Trailwalker, which turned out to be an epic fail.
My next event was a 500 kilometre, 10-day, non-stop expedition race in Sabah. Then came 250-kilometre ultra-marathons across the highest, driest, hottest and coldest deserts.
That’s six marathons back-to-back through sandstorms, jungle rain, blizzards, blistering heat, whatever Mother Nature can throw in your way. To-date, I have competed in 16 ultra-distance events.
There is nothing more pure than a multi-day, self-supported, ultra-distance run. There are no emails to respond to, phone calls to make, a board meeting to go to or bills to pay. Nothing else matters except the goal: put one foot in front of the other until the finish line.
Running taught me to filter out all of life’s everyday distractions and focus on task completion. Nothing is particularly hard if I break it down into smaller parts.
The toughest race ever was the six-day run through the Amazon Jungle in Brazil. The jungle was literally layers upon layers of misery. Everything was trying to bite me, poke me, sting me, suck my blood, poison me, eat me. Then add in slippery mud that depletes energy with every step, lung-sapping humidity and waterlogged feet.
It is human nature to quit. It doesn’t take any talent to do that. Human beings naturally choose the path of least resistance. There is nothing wrong with that. But if we never challenge ourselves to be smarter, faster, stronger, then we will never improve at anything.
As a community leader to start-ups, youth and animal welfare, the consequences of quitting would have a profound ripple effect. I must always lead by example.
I am the most fit unhealthy guy you will ever meet. I live on junk food. Every day, I consume at least three Cokes, two Starbucks drinks (with whipped cream), chips, candy and ice cream. I eat McDonald’s and KFC two to three times per week.
But my weekly exercise routine includes running to Stanley, running on a treadmill, Brazilian jiujitsu, Spartan race training and weight training at the gym.
My favorite route in Hong Kong is Mid-Levels to Stanley and back. It’s about 42 kilometers. Rain or shine.
Any people ask me what is the connection between running and animal welfare. Preparing to run an ultra-marathon is a one-year commitment to training, every day, every weekend for 12 months.
Taking a pet home is a lifetime promise. There are no cutting corners or quitting in either situation. Animals don’t have a voice so it is smarter to educate people. The simple formula is to train people and animals will benefit.