Culture Bridge Run – Kai Markus Xiong
Kai was not an experienced runner. But that didn’t stop him from exploring the historical routes of the Silk Road on his almost 7000 miles long „Culture Bridge Run“ from Hamburg in Germany to Shanghai!
He went through 8 countries (Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China) with the cold of Russia, the heat of the Taklamakan desert, sandstorm in China and crossing the Pamier mountains.
He scheduled to run 50 to 70 kilometers a day so the whole journey would take him 240 days.
Kai has a strong interest in China. His grandparents used to tell him stories about China, encouraging him to keep an open mind about other cultures and people. He has been to China many times, and married a Chinese woman.
Kai wants to enhance national ties between China and Germany, as well as reduce prejudice.
Hamburg and Shanghai celebrated the 30th anniversary of their twin ties in 2016, and 2017 marked the 45th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-German diplomatic relations, which led to his choice of the two cities as the start and end points for his run. Several companies supported the project as sponsors.
His run was meant to show respect for China’s long history and support for the Belt and Road Initiative and hopefully change some opinions. He planned to use Chinese-made equipment and clothing on the whole journey to prove that Chinese products can withstand tough conditions. He has also arranged many cultural interludes during the journey to inform the world about Chinese culture, society and products.
Kai wore out four dozen pairs of running shoes along the way.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I hope my footprints can connect Germany and China and open a door for the world to know China,” he added.
Main goals Kai wanted to achieve:
- build a cultural bridge over 8 Countries
- encourage social responsibility
- motivate young generation to follow their goals
- break down prejudice
Not everything went according to plan though. After a tripping accident Kai broke his heel bones and had to spend several months in a wheelchair and with crutches after a heavy operation. His friend and experienced adventurer Victor Neubauer, who transported most of the equipment and food in a Volkswagen Beetle and attached caravan took over the running for the last part of the trip while Kai accompanied him in his wheelchair. They reached Shanghai after 9 months.
The “cultural marathon” had brought people closer together. “In today’s world, we need many, many more projects that connect people instead of separating them,” Kai says.