An ultra-marathon is anything longer than the length of a traditional marathon. It challenges one’s physical limits to the maximum, and the perseverance of the runners is crucial to the ultimate success at the end of the day.
Highland Kings Ultra (HKU) is the world’s first premium ultra over four days, covering 120 miles (approximately 190km) of the most rugged yet scenic terrain on Scotland’s west coast. The inaugural event took place from April 25th to 29th this year.
Among the marathon runners from all over the world, there was a Chinese father and son team. Lionel, Founder of Li Foundation, is a father who has participated in several ultra marathons, including the World Marathon Challenge and Tour de Taiwan Ultra Marathon, while his son, Leo, 17 years old this year is the youngest runner in HKU.
Leo is a sports enthusiast. He clinched gold in the Singapore Powerlifting Open 2021 and broke the national record previously set in 2014 in the U59 Sub Junior catagory. However, marathon is not his strength. He only had the experience of a half marathon before HKU. In order to prepare for this race, Leo started his training, which was specifically planned out by the Committee, in the most diligent and earnest way six weeks before the event. He ran the Woodlands-Sentosa route with a total distance of 34 kilometres from the north to south of Singapore as his ‘Long Slow Distance’ long distance trial run.
The first day of the race covered approximately 50 kilometres, with a climb height of 800 meters. Leo enjoyed the epic and spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands while running along the coast. On his way, he carried the banners of two philanthropy foundations, SportCares and Li Foundation which he has been involved for a period of time and took photos with them to commemorate their support and fostering on a daily basis.
Leo’s body did not react well after day 1 of the event. The Committee was concerned and in order to still enjoy the rest of the race, Leo was advised and decided to cover only half the distance for days 2 and 3. The final day of the event was held on Arran Island and the most challenging part was climbing two large mountains. Leo had already finished 100 kilometres in the first three days. Unfortunately, he tore the ligaments in his left leg at the 7-kilometre mark but he persisted on with two walking sticks till he hits the 17-kilometre mark. Ultimately, he had no alternative but to withdraw from the competition due to the extent of his injuries.
Despite encountering various difficulties and obstacles along the way, Leo successfully challenged 125 kilometres in the four-day race creating a miracle of his own. At the final award ceremony, he received the medal from the legendary explorer, Ranulph Fiennes. This medal not only rewards him for all the energy he devoted to preparing for this race but also motivates him to forge forward courageously in his future endeavours.
Although Leo is a teenager, he has a strong strength of will. As long as one has a dream, you can keep running on and on.
The book showcases how the participants challenged their limits and conquered the World Marathon Challenge and North Pole Marathon to inspire people to challenge their own limits and pursue their dreams boldly.
The book tells the stories behind the event which saw the largest number of people in history running 1045km round Taiwan in 19 days.