When we heard about Kai Markus’s incredible journey running from Hamburg to Shanghai, we were excited to find out more. Supported by 361°’s new Sensation 2 stability shoe, we were lucky enough to take a trip to Hamburg to put the shoe to the test and learn more about the ‘Run My Silk Road’ journey.
A 44-year-old Financial Management Trainer from Bavaria, Kai Markus is no stranger to a challenge. From a strict upbringing in convent schools in south eastern Germany, Kai is a firm believer in the strong discipline he in experienced in early life having a significant impact on his world outlook and an inherent belief in judging others without prejudices.
Always having a strong interest in sports and athletic challenge, perhaps it is unsurprising he plans to take on the incredible challenge of running the 12,000km route from Hamburg to Shanghai. Embarking on the challenge, dubbed ‘Run My Silk Road’, Kai will cross eight countries in 235 days, averaging a distance of around 60km per day. Supported by 361°, Kai will run the total distance with a small team, joined by runners around the world for small stints of his journey.
A personal mission as well as just an athletic challenge, the ‘Run My Silk Road’ challenge aims to bridge the gap between Hamburg and Shanghai in more than just a measure of distance. Aiming to build a stronger cultural connection between East and West, Kai aims to break down the divide between both countries and banish cultural prejudices; something said to be at the core of his mentality.
While Kai is set to complete the challenge within an overall fixed time frame, he emphasises that he will not aim for pace on each of his daily runs. He was keen to make it clear that he believes ‘motivation is your biggest challenge’ and that by placing yourself within multiple limits is restrictive. After all, to make it from just A to B sounds like a challenge enough, so it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.
Given the target distance of 60K per day, the mental test of being with your own thoughts and without communication with loved ones at home for such long periods would seem like the biggest challenge. However, when asked if he had any fears for the task ahead, Kai seemed calm. ‘That something will happen to my friends or my family that I cannot help is my biggest fear,’ he says.
Leaving a young family at home, it is easy to see why, but perhaps this also fuels his enthusiasm for such a challenge. With his wife being Chinese, the challenge without doubt has strong personal connection that stretches far beyond the completion of just thee physically challenging side of his journey.
With this is mind, it was easy to see on the day why 361° were the perfect partner to his challenge. With its roots in China, the convergence of Kai’s and 361°’s values in stretching ‘beyond expectations’ but also breaking down walls between East and West lay at the core of his journey.
Testing the shoes so far on a practice run from Hamburg to Nuremburg, there is no question he has total confidence in the kit. Due to face multiple terrains of snow, ice and sand, as well as mountainous districts, he was sure to emphasise that the kit and route itself were in fact the least of his concerns.
During our visit, we were lucky enough to put the Sensation 2s through their paces. Taking us on a beautiful midday run through the streets of Hamburg, Kai and his team were able to show us why these shoes have been chosen to support him on his journey. Sturdy, supportive, yet streamlined, the Sensation 2’s provide the outstanding stability of a trail shoe, without the weight or bulkiness you might expect.
The heel is noticeably firm but gives the user total confidence in the support of the shoe. Notwithstanding their electric blue colour, it’s fair to say they stand out from the crowd when it comes to comparing them to others on the market, and perhaps that’s what makes them so fitting for this completely unique challenge.
Starting on the 12th March, Kai has already run 700K of the 12,000km route. With over 11,000km, 7 countries and 225 days left, we wish him all the best!