Let’s not talk about work! Tell us about your passion for running.
I started running every day because I wanted to lose some weight. At first it was hard, but after a while not doing it was harder. I go out at 6am and then go to work. My first big race was the Standard Chartered Marathon Hong Kong in 2009 [Stefano famously completed this 42-kilometre challenge in just two hours, 28 minutes; he was the first Hong Kong resident to reach the finish line and he set a course record for the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association.]
Do you still compete?
In February, I ran 10 kilometres in the Standard Chartered in 34 minutes – still good for an old man. I did it also to respect my sponsorship with Asics. I’m not a professional athlete but I still train well, and I think that’s why they continue to sponsor me.
And what of your dragon boating?
I’ll be racing with the Latin Dragons with my wife Crystal this month. We also have a commitment to sponsor two boats. This dragon-boat thing is the best expression of what DB can offer in terms of letting people feel integrated and energised. I see a lot of local residents going all out and looking happy as never before.
How do you have the energy for it all?
For me being active is actually a release – after a week of working 11 to 12 hours a day, I want to put all of that built-up stress to use. I lived my dream of racing in the Iron Man World Championship in Hawaii in 2017, but recently I was speaking to my mum and she asked me what it was worth. I was working and exercising so much I barely saw my children. She said that since I like giving back to the community, I should bring all of these passions together. That’s how Kapuhala came about. It’s an extension of that release, but it is not only for myself, it is for all of DB and hopefully, going forward… the planet!
Tell us about Kapuhala.
Kapuhala is a space in DB North Plaza for like-minded people and their children to come together and exercise; to realise there is more to life than making the big bucks, than drinking a beer on the ferry home or going to expensive dinners. Kapuhala actually means ‘sacred tree’ in Hawaiian. For me it refers to an old olive tree that grows in Sicily, where my dad is from. Why the tree? Because it is strong, and like the tree, our families and friendships grow which helps us to take root in different places.
And how about the charity angle?
We organise active charity events like the Crayon Run and the DB 10K with different groups like Plastic Free Seas, Impact HK and the Society for the Relief of Disabled Children. Kapuhala itself is a human-powered engine to produce social energy; we pay our overheads and our trainers but the rest goes to the charities we support. I like to call it a ‘social gym’ because of the dual intentions to strengthen bonds within the community and use our bodies to create a new form of energy – a social energy!
Tags: dragon race, hawksford, kapuhala, marathons, stefano passarello, work-out