The wild Taiwan Beast Runners running in the mountain
Translated by 半月
In 2016, the Council of Indigenous Peoples selected 20 business plans, including agriculture, bio-tech application, cultural and creative industry and travel, for a subsidy for start-ups. We interviewed some teams almost a year after getting their 1 million subsidy from the government.
First, we met Taiwan Beast Runners. As their name suggests, this is a group of people dedicated to sharing this energy and biodiversity hidden in mountains in Taiwan. In this interview, we are going to see how Taiwanese girl, Eva and Petr, a guy from Czech Republic turned their passion into a business model.
A hiking path explorer from Czech
Petr did not put too much emphasis on physical training. He came to Taiwan for his doctorate study. It was here in Taiwan that he discovered he loves long distance running. At the time, he, Eva and some friends from various countries often go running and exploring in suburban areas in Taipei.
We can tell from their logo that the Beast Runners is a team full of stories. “When exploring the mountains through running in the mountains around Taipei, you will certainly ‘run into’ spider webs. This is why we put a spider under the runner’s foot in logo. Some people think that we are just like beasts, who enjoy exploring trails, steps, river and other terrain.”
Taiwan Beast Runners choose mostly precipitous paths that are collected by Petr when he was out exploring the mountains. He would collect information with the help of GPS, Google Earth and some simple text to arrange his hiking trail.
“Many trails are seemingly undiscovered by hikers. Others are ancient trails that have been long-forgotten. This is often the ones that touch us the most. We would like to re-discover these beautiful paths.” Eva explained.
From hobbyist runners to entrepreneurs
Since 2012, they started to participate in long-distance trail running competitions in Taiwan and other Asian countries. They have been to Hong kong’s SK50 Train Race, vertical kilometer race, Taiwan TNF100 race, the Atayal Marathon held by the Bigfoot Running Association, the Charming Trail Race, Action Asia X-Trail Race in Taiwan and Kinabalu International Climbathon in Malaysia.
For 5 years, Petr and Eva have been running together and they got to know some other runners. They discover that there are really dew trail running events in Taiwan. “We have more and more running events in recent years. However, barely 1 percent of them are trail running events.”
“We got a chance to help Action Asia planing their running trails in Mao-Kong and Shih-Men Dam. An idea just popped up: maybe we can plan for our own events!” In January 2015, Taiwan Beast Runners was officially founded. They applied for start-up funding given by Council of Indigenous People, dedicated to build and discover more trails for runners in Taiwan.
They have been through obstacles from the very beginning. For example, when they held their very first trail race event, the company they collaborated quit suddenly. Not knowing how to protect themselves with contracts, Beast Runners had to pay more to make the race continue.
Without a doubt one of the biggest problem comes from the weather. “We held racing events on trails that we discovered and maintained ourselves. Typhoons in Taiwan can blow our planned events away.” They have the experience of postponing an event for 2 months because of a wild typhoon. This is an expensive lesson they paid for.
International runner community management and course design
Today, Taiwan Beast Runners mainly focus on trail running, mountain climbing, marathons and other outdoor activities. Eva is responsible for managing runner community in Taiwan while Petr takes care of the foreigners. Their website is carefully translated in Chinese and English so that international runners can sign up on the internet with no problem.
Also, they provide training courses to attract newcomers. They have held international runner mountain training camp and “Little Trail Runners”, for example. In addition, they have regular training sessions at night and on weekends which serve as another way of expanding the existing runner community.
How to make money?
According to Running Biji, there were 800 running events in 2015 in Taiwan. However, Taiwan Beast Runners is not like those well-known sports brands that can attract hundreds of participant in a few seconds for every event. So, How do they make profit? According to Eva, the key is “trail running”, which make them different.
“We will have at least 4 races this year (3 of them are international large-scale international events). From May on, we will start our training courses for children and teenagers. Next year, we are going to hold classic trail races and try to explore trails in central and southern Taiwan.”
Taiwan Beast Runners also designs trail-running related products like clothing, water bottles, scarf and so on. They also sell products sponsor’s products. In addition, they hold events and earn money from the participants. However, Eva emphasized that the priority of Taiwan Beast Runners now is to get noticed. They used books and photo album as media trying to build a Taiwanese trail racing brand.
Eva hopes that Taiwan Beast Runners can convey the idea that we should love and respect our mother nature. She herself gets more and more brave and learns to respect other creatures from the experiences in mountains.
“We have outdoor events designed for children. We would like to make this their habit since little. Children need this opportunity to get to know our mother nature and learn to respect and to be thankful.”
In the near future, they want to hold even more races and courses and attract more people from other countries. “Taiwan is a really beautiful island. We hope that the government can really make use of our natural environment here and promote outdoor activities.
中文版連結Cover photo from Taiwan Beast Runners