Impact Story – RunOurCity Encourages the Use of Running to Improve the Lifestyle of Youth and Create Inclusivity through Sports

RunOurCity Foundation Limited (“RunOurCity”) is a local non-profit charitable organization that aims to improve the lifestyle of youth across the city and promote inclusivity through sports, specifically running. The organization promotes running activities as a means of holistic development, which enhances personal physical and mental health, and helps disadvantaged communities.

Dr. Andes Leung Pak-hang, co-founder and CEO of RunOurCity, established the organization in 2013. He has nearly 20 years of rich experience in managing international brand operations and marketing in the business sector, coupled with his passion for running. It is without a doubt that the success of RunOurCity in overcoming adverse challenges during the pandemic and continuing to thrive is highly attributable to Dr. Leung’s strong passion for sports and his rugged resilience and qualities when facing hardship.

“I have participated in half-marathons, full-marathons, desert races, and mountain races from 10km to 168km. The experiences brought by different distances and routes are unique. Running allows you to connect with nature and mitigate your emotions positively,” he stated during an interview with LBS Communications.

“Running” into the Community and Making a Difference
Since its establishment, RunOurCity has attracted over 130,000 runners to participate in its events and activities, successfully raising funds for more than 30 charitable organizations. The “Hong Kong Streetathon 2020” became the last annual marathon before the Covid-19 lockdown.

The marathon events organized by RunOurCity are not just about running, as they also provide food and entertainment activities, such as musical performances at the supply stations along the way, thus creating social opportunities for runners and enhancing community cohesion. RunOurCity has also formed strategic partnerships with the Tohoku Food Marathon & Festival in Japan and the BOGOTO U-Lay Marathon organized by the National Association of Trailrunners in Taiwan, extending the value of running in economic and cultural aspects with similar development concepts beyond Hong Kong.

Apart from large-scale marathon events with over 10,000 participants, RunOurCity also offers training courses for youth. The “Youth.ROC” is a long-distance running training program designed for teenagers and aimed at cultivating interest in running, improving physical fitness, and fostering the spirit of never giving up. The “Youth.ONE” program covers more advanced and diverse courses and activities, extending from individuals to the community.

Dr. Leung stated that “Community integration has always been one of RunOurCity’s core concepts. While promoting personal growth, social and human connection is the pivot of social unity. Running is just a way to enter the community. After “running” into the community, we will combine different community cultural traits to stage a variety of events such as, ‘Eat, Play and Run’ activities. We also organize volunteer activities for primary and secondary schools, allowing students, teachers, staff, and parents to participate and discover the uniqueness of the community from a new perspective, especially for teenagers.”

Humanitarian Care Brings Hope in Adversity and Pandemic
Many of the young participants in training are students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who experience challenges related to hyperactivity, autism, and visual or hearing impairments. To cater to these different physical and psychological needs, RunOurCity partners with professors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to create tailored training programs. These programs aim to foster a caring and inclusive environment, build participants’ confidence and help them explore their potential through professional analysis and academic research.

The pandemic limited outdoor activities for almost three years, but RunOurCity adapted by launching virtual runs and home-based activities such as “Run to the Moon,” “Streetside Hong Kong Streetathon” and “Lake Festival.” These activities have attracted many participants, who can earn medals and souvenirs by completing the designated routes and uploading their selfies, and running records to the system. The routes are designed to be scenic or culturally significant to enhance runners’ physical fitness and reduce the psychological pressure brought on by pandemic restrictions on gatherings.
In addition, the “BEE Family Coach” project, which offers online training workshops on “Exercise, Diet, Rest, Communication”, also received enthusiastic responses from many communities. The aim of these workshops is to train participants to become home coaches who can lead other family members to establish healthy lifestyles.

Life Influencing Life: Integrating Sustainable Development into Daily Life
It is the greatest reward for us, as the event organizer, to see young people develop both physically and mentally, as SEN students gradually integrate into society and overcome their inner struggles. Dr. Leung shared that he was very pleased to see a child who was unwilling to leave their room to participate in activities with their parents and manage to run to the finish line. That child would go on to actively join in the street running. That journey has become a new starting point for growth. In addition, a secondary school principal also shared that students took the initiative to care for classmates with special needs, communicate with them, and participate in the street running events together. To live is to influence.

Personal sustainable development is another interpretation of holistic development, and the foundation strives to integrate sustainable development into daily life. As an independent organization, RunOurCity Foundation effectively balances the dual needs of individuals and business operations. It is committed to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals framework, which includes “good health and well-being,” “reduce inequalities,” and “sustainable cities and communities.” By using sports as a means to establish connections between individuals, families, communities, and even different countries and regions, the foundation creates development momentum.

Overcoming the Pandemic to Create “Hong Kong Streetathon 2023” as An International Event
Although the pandemic impeded the organization of physical events, RunOurCity continued to operate by hosting various virtual events to adapt to the change in environment and pandemic restrictions. Dr. Leung explained, “During the toughest period, we continued to organize activities for families and institutions, despite limited resources and financial support.

Regarding the annual Hong Kong Streetathon event, we chose not to hold this virtually, as this event is designed to bring different people together through a carnival-style running event and with continuous changes in urban traffic routes and the significant decrease in the scale of activities during the pandemic, RunOurCity chose to hold this physically when the time is right.”

Currently, RunOurCity is preparing for this year’s major marathon event and is looking to expand its opportunities abroad, taking advantage of the reopening of borders. “This year, physical events have finally returned to normal, and RunOurCity is actively preparing to restart the annual marathon event. While we are working hard to negotiate with government departments and organizations, we also hope to collaborate with more international events and brands, raising international capital, and attracting more overseas runners to Hong Kong. Our goal is to make “Hong Kong Streetathon 2023″ a prestigious event in the Asia-Pacific region, promoting the unique culture of Hong Kong and presenting cultural inclusivity through sports,” said Dr. Leung.

SIP is Committed to Investing in Various Social Issues and Bringing Positive Change
One of Social Impact Partner’s (“SIP”) investment goals is to solve problems related to social education, youth welfare, and the environment. SIP believes that RunOurCity can actively improve the lifestyle of young people through training in running and helping adolescents develop holistically. To further their social impact, SIP has invested twice and provided financial oversight, legal aid, and support in other fields.Improving youth welfare is also an essential investment goal for SIP. Adolescents are at a crucial stage in their lives where their personalities can easily be shaped. Therefore, developing their physical and mental health is vital. SIP hopes to use this opportunity to encourage all sectors of society to actively create a social environment that is conducive to the growth of young people. This will involve opening up different channels of communication and education.

Relive the highlights of the “Hong Kong Streetathon 2020”