Don’t worry about the aftermath – 2,500 days later

 Day 2,500 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country 

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador). 

The #UltimateStepChallengeHK was a success!


Ending one thing apparently always leads people to asking: “what is next?” Sometimes you would just wish that it was already enough. However here is how this tale unfolded.

Once upon a time…in a mysterious land far, far away…there were 25 brave footed warriors who stood up to the task of filling the mighty treasure trove of the Danish Red Cross. They did that in the hope that hungry children in Yemen might eat and homeless families in Beirut could wipe their tears and sleep. They hoped that if they set their brave feet forward, not once, not twice, but five million times then the treasure trove might fill and the mighty king who sat upon it would let the gold spill down upon those who needed it most. And this had long been the tradition of the good and mighty king. The gold reached the hands of those less fortunate, and so all was well.


Corporate+ sponsors: Ross DK & Geoop (developing green energy from geothermal resources), DSV Denmark (Global Transport and Logistics), and Danish Crown HK (global leader in sustainable meat production).

Yeah…and fairytales aside we actually ended up doing something real here. 25 people. 7 days. 6.3 million steps. Numbers like those are hard to comprehend but if we look at it in sheer distance then are steps accumulated 4,596 km (2,856 mi) which is equivalent to crossing the USA from east coast to west coast or making it more than 11% around the planet following the equator. No small thing in just seven days. The challenge attracted corporate sponsorship and media attention. And we ended up raising more than twice as much money as we were aiming for. 24 of us were in Hong Kong while a single beam of light took her tiny steps in the great kingdom in the high north of Europe (my fiancée joined from Denmark as the only one outside of Hong Kong). She had dispensation as she also took part in the former step challenge where we also raised money for the Red Cross.


I am immensely proud of my fellow 24 participants. I believe that everyone managed to do something special last week! Many set personal goals which they either achieved or surpassed. The spirit of everyone was remarkable…it was just go, go, GO! We had a WhatsApp group in which participants would share photos, videos and updates. Our event used StrideKick to keep score of everybody’s steps throughout the week and people would be out stepping from early morning to late at night – the numbers were constantly changing. I have heard back from several of the participants who wanted me to know that they really enjoyed being a part of it. And I have heard from many across social media that they felt inspired and motivated by our actions. Unfortunately, the Saga lost a lot of followers across both Facebook and Instagram during the step challenge but the loyal ones stayed behind. I guess many find Once Upon A Saga and think it’s some sort of backpacker’s dream with photos and tips on exotic travel. And then when they realize they are dealing with a slightly depressed tired old man who is fighting to stay within the project and claw his way to the final nine countries…well, then they are off to other things :) Well, this event was a team effort. Everyone lifted the weight we needed to bring across and together we raised more that USD 10,000 for the Red Cross.


As I cannot possibly share any other story than my own it will be my version of the week which follows here below. However first I must congratulate Jakob on finally beating me. I know he worked hard for it. And I am very happy to congratulate Treadmill Poul on finishing on top of the leaderboard with an astonishing 603,998 steps in just one week!! It has been a running joke for a while now…but what the heck is that man eating?!? I also want to thank the Danish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong for supporting the step challenge. The Chairman, Thomas Andersen, even added 261,960 steps to the event which is remarkable considering that it measures up to more than 37,000 steps per day! Anita must also be mentioned. She is a senior director at Fossil Group and supplied us with the Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatches which all the participants were offered. 11 of such smartwatches also entered the lottery for all who had registered with a PERSONAL sponsorship. Anita is also an avid rugby player at Valley Women’s Rugby Club which contributed with several of participants for our challenge. I see where this is going…I’ll end up listing everyone and I don’t want to do that. But I must thank Kinny and Bien for all the wonderful graphics! And I do want to thank Paul from Walk In Hong Kong for joining in as well as Brett from The Running Klub. And eleven out of twelve people from the former step challenge were back in play again. Man what an assembly of people!! It happened in Hong Kong! :)


Podcasts this time: "13 minutes to the moon season two", "You're dead to me", "BBC Global News Podcast" and "WTF with Marc Maron".


Stocking up on energy bars and gels before the craziness began.

Right – so, this challenge quickly got crazy! I was personally aiming for half a million steps as a personal goal and what I thought would be a likely number of steps to win the entire challenge. I was wrong and barely came in third. There must be something in the water here in the Kong? The challenge ran from Monday August 3rd and ended Sunday August 9th at midnight. Here’s a brief day by day account:

Monday August 3rd – day 1

Weather: hard rain

Steps: 71,480

Distance: 57.81 km (35.92 mi)


Plan: get up at 06:00am and leave by 07:00am. I had a half-baked plan of walking all the way to the border with mainland China. The rain made it quite miserable and I had to stop to buy dry socks along the way. It became quite the adventure when I neared Shenzhen Bay as I walked through some super rural areas. I got to see Shenzhen across the bay and ordered a taxi to take me back to Tuen Mun Road Interchange and walked home from there. The many hours of walking with soaked feet had created multiple blisters and left me in pain. I came home, did laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 11:19pm.


When it rains it pours!


Looking across to Shenzhen in mainland China. Turn around point.

Tuesday August 4th – day 2

Weather: mostly sunny and dry.

Steps: 71,354

Distance: 54.64 km (33.95 mi)


Plan: get up at 06:00am and leave by 07:00am. Follow the coast and cross the bridge to Tsing Yi island and make an attempt to walk around it. My feet and my body had me thinking that we must have been near the end of the challenge. But this was only day two. At least the weather was mostly dry. I reached Tsing Yi which seemed lovely. After walking on a beautiful promenade for a while it ended and my phone was giving me directions to take an “adventurous trail” through some wilderness. It was a mistake to follow that advice. While it wasn’t raining all the greenery was wet and within minutes my shoes and socks were once more drenched. I was also adding a lot of elevation gain which I was trying to avoid. I was cursing myself!! My feet got worse. I eventually came home, did laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 10:18pm.


Early morning Tai Chi in the park.


Wet feet. But what a view.


Realizing that this was going to be really hard!

Wednesday August 5th – day 3

Weather: rain in the morning. Partially rain throughout the day.

Steps: 70,755

Distance: 53.50 km (33.24 mi)


Plan: get up at 06:00am and leave by 07:00am. I had a horrible night in which I was bathed in sweat and twisted in pain. I wanted to walk towards central Hong Kong and eventually decided to walk all the way out to Kai Tak which is where the old airport used to be. After walking for a third of the way it began to feel like blood was rushing to my toes and that they were about to explode. But at least I managed to stay dry. Once I reached Kai Tak I turned around, walked all the way to Kowloon Station, took the MTR from there to Lai King station (9 minutes) and made my way home from there. Actually it began raining again during the evening and I more or less ran the last 10 km (6.21 mi) home. Once back, I did my laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 11:10pm.





Beautiful Kai Tak. Turn around point.


Waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't. Then I ran....

Thursday August 6th – day 4

Weather: Sunny, 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F) and 80% humidity.

Steps: 70,755

Distance: 53.50 km (33.24 mi)


Plan: get up at 06:00am and leave by 07:00am. I had slept okay but not enough. However, I was feeling quite good apart from my feet. I walked out to Tuen Mun which was one of the earliest settlements in what is now Hong Kong. Once I reached Tuen Mun River I would walk up and down the riverside until I had accumulated enough steps and then walked home. I was the walking dead when I neared my apartment. Poul K and Kenneth (from within the step challenge) had spotted me when I passed them on the Tsuen Wan West Promenade - but I was out of it. No time to stop. No time to chat. I had hit the wall and was struggling!! I came home, did laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 10:16pm.



Reaching the full marathon distance mile stone. On moving on.




Friday August 7th – day 5

Weather: Sunny, 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F) and 80% humidity.

Steps: 71,989

Distance: 53.21 km (33.06 mi)


Plan: get up at 07:00am and leave by 09:00am. The night had been horrible. Shooting pain in my feet and I had been sweating bullets. My nights would continue like that from this point on. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club had organized a live talk with Noam Chomsky via zoom from 08:00-09:00am and I really wanted to see that. So I left late and finished late. The plan was to return to Tuen Mun River again and repeat the previous day. Although from this point on I was eating lunch twice trying to keep up with the calories I was burning. I got very emotional about the explosion in Beirut during a video I recorded and posted to social media. Until the Saga got stuck in Hong Kong, Lebanon was the longest stay with 102 days. I have too many memories from there. Too many friends. I am very attached to Lebanon. I literally cried for Lebanon. I was done at 11:06pm. Then I did my laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 00:48am.


Live talk with Noam Chomsky. Good stuff! 



Reaching full marathon distance was always a mile stone. Just not enough.

Saturday August 8th – day 6

Weather: Sunny, 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F) and 80% humidity.

Steps: 72,200

Distance: 54.66 km (33.96 mi)


Plan: get up at 07:00am and leave by 08:00am. Terrible sleep. Not far out of the gate I met Poul K and Kenneth who were heading the same way. We ended up hiking together following my Tuen Mun River plan from previous days. My left foot in particularly was killing me!! It felt like a nail was going up through the center of it and that the pain was spreading up through the leg towards my knee. I was struggling! It was however nice to have company for a day and a break from all the podcasts I had been listening to. Eventually I had to seek out a pharmacy and get some pain relief cream and some paracetamol. And it helped – but it is never wise to quiet down pain while continuing the act which is causing it. Poul was a contender for the 500,000 step benchmark while Kenneth had challenged himself to 300,000 steps but raised the bar to 350,000 steps. For that reason, Kenneth left us earlier while Poul and I kept on alone. Poul had gotten into his mind that he was going to do 100,000 steps within a day! And he seemed unstoppable and full of energy. We parted when we reached my apartment and he kept going into the night eventually reaching more than 100,000 steps that day before getting into a taxi. Afterwards his back set out and he did no more steps throughout the rest of the challenge. Once home I did my laundry, stretched, had a shower, cooked dinner, ate, updated social media, hung my clothes to dry, did the dishes and went to bed at 00:05am. Happy that the last day was coming.




Reaching a full marathon distance for the 6th day in a row with far to go.

Sunday August 9th – day 7 (final day)

Weather: Sunny, 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 F) and 80% humidity.

Steps: 78,296

Distance: 62.59 km (38.89 mi)


Plan: get up at 07:00am and leave by 08:00am. More terrible sleep. I was physically and mentally exhausted. There was no catching up with Treadmill Poul who was set to reach at least 600,000 steps by the end of the day. Jakob whom I had been competing against in the previous two step challenges was also racing ahead. Anders was also ahead of me and as a group we had already reached more than 5 million steps. There was literally no need for me to take any more steps. No other reason than that I had challenged myself to take half a million steps within seven days. My body had long since given up but my mind was whipping whatever was left. And away I went out on the familiar Tuen Mun River route. 18 km (11.18 mi) to reach the river, then circle the promenade until I reached 36 km (22.4 mi) and finally head back home, on foot, across the last 18 km (11.18 mi). I continued my day on painkillers, which I had also been on throughout the night in hope of getting any sleep. Eventually a message ticked in on the WhatsApp group. It was Anders. He declared that he had reached his goal of 505,050 steps and was done. What an achievement!! Well done Anders!! But was he just going to quit there? Because if I could reach 500,000 then I could surely take another 6,000 steps in spite of all my pain and get ahead of him before midnight. Jakob was long gone. In order of beating him I needed to walk for an additional 3-4 hours and the thought was far too painful. However I could get ahead of Anders. And I did. It was a very slow and very painful process but I eventually reached half a million steps and finally ended on 507,428 steps. As such I ended up in third place. Who would have thought that one could take half a million steps within a week and end up third? This challenge had some hardcore people within it. I finished at 11:32pm and went to bed at 01:48am.


COME ON!! Last day!! You can do it!!



Usually not that pale. Usually not subject to ecchymosis.

The following days were full of pain. I would be able to sleep for an hour here or there before a sensation of having burning acid running through my feet took over. My hips and calves were also in bad shape but the strong pain coming from within my feet would mostly block that out. The blisters weren’t causing any real pain. It all came from my sole and the muscles in my feet. At times it felt like I was walking directly on the bones. Good stuff!! I couldn’t get much sleep during the nights. Instead I would break it into smaller sleep throughout the days. An hour here and there. The pain was pretty much constant and painkillers only did so much work. A few days into that madness I began to worry if I needed to see a doctor. However, towards the end of the third day it began to get better. The constant pain had been really tiring. But now I finally had a night with six hours of sleep without the use of any painkillers. And I have been getting better ever since. Yeah – so I managed to push myself to a distance of 386 km (240 mi) on mostly flat terrain over the course of a week. That is a lot when you’re not a professional athlete. Heck! I’m not even an amateur athlete. I have been called a mental athlete a few times but that doesn’t seem to help my body a lot. There is an ultra-distance race in the USA called the Moab 240 Endurance Run and it covers about the same distance. It is a competition for professional ultra-runners and they have a cutoff at 112 hours (nearly five days). Yup…it was no small thing we pulled off with the #UltimateStepChallengeHK. As for now I continue to be tired and sleep more than usual. I'm likely also detoxing from excessive intake of energy drinks, energy bars and power gels. However I’ll soon be out there again on some mountain top.


Restitution: home-cooked meal, milk and a movie. 

Final results Copy 3

Team effort!


My feet HATE me.

Today marks 2,500 days since I left Denmark. I originally wanted to do a big thing on it. A massive post on social media like we’ve done for milestones in previous years. I wanted to share some of my learnings from across the globe. But I really don’t feel like it. It does not seem like a joyous event this time. It has been 2,500 days of not giving up, always finding a way, meeting new people, taking calculated risks, promoting the Red Cross, fighting bureaucracy, dealing with logistics, crossing borders, exploring the world, making new friends, tasting strange food, updating social media, doing research, working hard and staying motivated. It has also been 2,500 days of being in a long-distance relationship with a wonderful woman who deserves better. And of course it has also been 2,500 days of promoting the world from its best side as it also deserves better. I guess that should do…let’s keep on keeping on…




I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop


If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga needs funding. Thank you :)


 Patreon Picture2MobilePay


Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - so...what's next?
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"


Thor emblem

Once Upon A Saga

Photo Mar 23 10 20 21 2Photo Mar 23 10 20 21 3Photo Mar 23 10 20 21 4Photo Mar 23 10 20 21 5SM LinkedIn
Once Upon a Saga
Made by Kameli