Quanzhou, Fujian-based sports gear producer 361°will provide quality gear for German runner Kai Markus and his team during a 12,000-kilometer extreme run that will cover the ancient Silk Road.
Born in Bayern state in 1972, Markus' day job is financial consultancy. He used to be a gymnast and a water lifeguard, and loves extreme sports such as cross-country skiing and rock climbing. His enthusiast for running has led him to complete in two long-distance events — the 1,000-km run from Flensburg city to Zugspitze, the highest peak of the German Alps and the 750-km run from Nuremberg, Germany, to Paris, France.
His new challenge started at Hamburg, Germany, on March 12 and he is expected to take eight months to reach Shanghai. The two cities have been sister cities for 30 years. The 12,000-km route will be one of the longest among amateur adventure runs in history. It will cover East Europe, Central Asia and vast regions in China's northwest, center and east.
Kai Markus stands in front of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, a new iconic cultural venue in Hamburg, Germany, before starting his heroic run to cover the ancient Silk Road to "Break Down Prejudice". [Photo provided to China Daily] Fujian-based sports gear producer 361° is sponsoring Markus and his team.
Markus said that this running from Europe to China is unprecedented, and that through this event he wants to help Europeans learn more about China. Markus is well aware of China's Belt and Road Initiative and believes that it will benefit the world by increasing exchange and co-development.
Married to a Chinese, Markus is an enthusiast for Chinese culture. He even added an image of giant panda, a beloved Chinese emblem, to his family badge, to prolong this affection within his bloodline. He respects two historical Chinese figures — military strategist Sun Zi, who wrote The Art of War during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), and Wu Zetian (AD 624-705), who was the only empress in China’s history. To Markus, they represent the wisdom and courage of ancient China. Modern Chinese people's fortitude and tenacity also impress him.
Having a deep knowledge of China makes it easier for Markus to understand and accept the differences between China and the West. He believes that if more Westerners could keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions, they could learn a lot from the differences.
According to Markus, he took up the extreme run along the magnificent route because he saw it as a good opportunity to draw attention to the importance of embracing cultural and ideological differences. Running along the ancient Silk Road fits this idea because of its history of romantic adventure — caravans travelling across enormous, arid regions, stops at solitary oases— and its roles as a cultural link and a means of bringing economic prosperity to large and small communities across Asia and Europe.
Germen runner Kai Markus smiles clad in sports gear sponsored by 361°. [Photo provided to people.com.cn]
The president of 361°, Ding Wuhao, said that Markus' avid pursuit of his dream coincides with the company's ethos as a sports brand with Chinese roots and a global vision. Ding said the company hopes this heroic feat will inspire sports lovers worldwide.
The company was founded in 2003 and went public in Hong Kong in 2009. Its Innofashion brand is endorsed by Olympic swimming gold medalist Sun Yang. The company has a strong social consciousness and has supported many great causes. It made eight million yuan ($1.2 million) worth of donations to help survivors of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Lushan, Sichuan, in 2013.
The website of the company's European branch keeps track of Markus' progress, how far he has gone in how many days, how many countries he has passed through and how many pairs of shoes he has used.
Check it out here: Run My Silk Road