Since its founding in 2010, Spartan has grown from a small race in Vermont to a way of life that empowers people around the globe.Most recently, Spartan has made its way to Asia thanks to the efforts of an incredible team. To get a glimpse of what’s happening on the other side of the world, we called up two key players in the spread of the Spartan movement in Asia: Steffan Fung and Jack Lian.
INTRODUCING: STEFFAN FUNG
SR: Who are you, and what do you do?
SF: “I’m Steffan Fung, Director of Endurance and Training (for Asia Pacific). My role is to plan, manage, and execute the Endurance events (Hurricane Heat, Agoge), and also Training (Spartan SGX) over here. I also help with the Race Directing/Quality Management of Spartan Races in Asia Pacific. “You can look at me like Tony Matesi, John Gauch, Joe Di, and Denise all rolled into one, in Asia-Pacific. I’m the extension of Spartan Race, Inc. in Asia.”
SR: That’s a lot of people to be all at once. Is there anything else you do that’s amazing?
SF: “I’m the first and only person in Asia that is fully trained in all branches of Spartan, being SGX/SOS-trained, gone through race director training, conducted Hurricane Heat, been through Agoge both as a participant and as a Krypteia.”
SR: You’re an endurance guy. What’s your favorite workout?
SF: “I love multisport (swim, runs) because it takes the boredom out of training. I also love Dragonboat, CrossFit training, [and] OCR. I [have been] ex-military in Commandos/Special Forces for 16 years [and have] done a multitude of sports and endurance events.”
SR: Let’s talk about Spartan as a movement. How is it catching on in Singapore, or Asia more generally?
SF: “Slowly but surely, we are seeing OCR-type events gaining traction. From traditional pure running events, we now have themed runs, and now we have OCR. We have a footprint in Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Australia, and slowly we are seeing more people jumping [in]. I’m excited to spread this to more countries in Asia.”
SR: What do you think is the biggest difference between Spartan Asia and Spartan in the Western world? What’s the same?
SF: “The main difference is [the culture]. There is a need to localise content to suit Asian needs, as we [Asians] are just starting on the Spartan Journey. However, the culture of excellence remains the same, the desire to stay gritty and sporty is no different in the Western World and Asia.”
SR: Have you seen individual lives changed?
SF: “Yes, I had a personal friend who used to be a couch potato. He started doing CrossFit after watching CrossFit games on TV, but he wasn’t able to make it to regionals as he was not that fit yet. However, Spartan Race was able to give him the challenge he needed, and he is now in a better shape than ever before.
INTRODUCING: SGX COACH JACK LIAN
SR: Where did you grow up?
JL: “I grew up in Singapore, so I have pretty much been living in the urban jungle for all my life.”
SR: What’s your athletic background?
JL: “I was part of the track and field team in my Primary school. When I went on to secondary school and subsequently junior college, I was exposed to cross country and from there, running became part of my life. “After years of running, I went on to [the] National Service [which] exposed me to the importance of having well-rounded fitness. I started to delve into calisthenics and the sport of kettlebell. Soon, I found out that balancing these [two] sports with running not only makes me stronger but less prone to injuries as well. Ever since then, I became a huge advocate of developing all-round fitness.”
SR: How did you find Spartan?
JL: “I was surfing Youtube one day [and saw] people going through mud, carrying sandbags, [Atlas stones], and monkey bars while running through a course, [and it] looked really fun. I finally got a chance to race my first Spartan Race at Temecula together with Steffan this year. We did the Super on Saturday [and the] Sprint on… Sunday and really had a blast.”
SR: You also completed the Agoge 001. What on earth compelled you to transition straight from the races to such a grueling event?
JL: “Being an ultrarunner who craves… challenges, I decided to ramp up the challenge by trying out…the inaugural [Winter] Agoge held [in] Pittsfield, Vermont. It was -20 [degrees Fahrenheit] and below…[my] first experience with snow. And although I was freezing like hell (I [come] from a tropical climate), I pushed through it because I really wanted to finish an event [that was] such a rare opportunity to take part in. The Agoge really taught me ways to overcome adversities and keep working towards [my] True North.”
SR: And what do you think is your True North?
JL: “My True North is to inspire and help people not only to just achieve their fitness goals, but to dare to pursue their passion and achieve the life goals that they set for themselves.”
SR: For those Spartans on this side of the world who don’t know what you do, what is your involvement in Spartan Asia?
JL: “I am an SGX-certified coach and will be helping Steffan out with the Spartan events in Asia and definitely be participating in the Spartan events here in Asia. During the Malaysia Super held in March this year, I helped conduct the Hurricane Heat as a Krypteia. There also is the Singapore Spartan Super coming up this May, and I am definitely looking forward to it.”