Running 100 miles to save moon bears
GLENVAR – Joseph Teh is running 100 miles at one stretch to save moon bears in Asia.
The Long Haul 100 he will run on Jan. 21 is only part of his long-term plans. “My goal is to run across the Sahara, cross the Antarctic Continent and climb Mount Everest,” said the 33-year-old, who was born in Malaysia and came to the Salem area with his job.
He is a controls engineer at GE Energy in Salem that develops control software for steam and gas turbines. Teh is now working on controls for wind turbines.
Teh has already completed a winter race in Alaska, pulling a sled. “That took about 42 hours,” he said.
His long haul race that is described as an “ultra marathon will be in a warmer climate, Wesley Chapel, Fla. Teh’s goal is to raise $10 per mile or $1,000 for Animals Asia. Runners will be raising money for their favorite causes.
So why is Teh training so hard to save moon bears in Vietnam and China?
“My wife and I are animal lovers,” he said. Teh and his wife, Kili, volunteer at the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue once a month, he said.
He learned about the pain moon bears in Asia go through by researching organizations dedicated to saving animals.
The bears are kept in cages in which they can barely stand up or move, and have an open wound in their abdomens deliberately kept open, Teh said, so their gall bladders can be milked twice.
He describes the pain the bears go through during the “milking” process as excruciating.
Bear bile, which is a digestive liquid stored in the gall bladder, is used in traditional Chinese medicine, Teh points out, and a use that could be replaced by herbs.
Residents in the Glenvar area probably see Teh training each week, near Glenvar Elementary, middle and high school, in Green Hill Park, the Appalachian Trail near Mcafee’s Knob and the Dragon’s Tooth area in Craig County.
On weekdays he runs 8-10 miles, 15 miles on Saturday and another 15 on Sunday.
“My personal rule is I don’t want to go above 50 miles in one shot because the wear and tear on the body,” Teh said.
Recently he ran a 50-mile race in Chattanooga, Tenn., which he said is part of the training for the Long Haul 100.
“I did pretty good. I finished in 11 hours, 57 minutes. For the 100, 28 hours is the cut off. If I can finish in that, I will be happy.”
The couple have lived near the schools since moving to the Roanoke Valley four years ago. They share their home with cats Tigger, Monkey, Cheese Puff and Beatie. The couple have been married for 10 years.
Teh said what draws him to train to run an ultra is “the experience of being surrounded by forests, mountains, rivers, wildlife, snow…The solitude and immersion in nature is truly a spiritual experience,” he said. “It connects me with the Creator, Mother Earth, and all beings that live on this special place we call Earth. This experience creates an awareness in me and makes realize that all sentient beings wants to survive, defend their young, be free, and be happy.”
While running the hills and rural areas in Glenvar, Teh is thinking about his next goals. “First I want to climb Everest, and cross the Saraha second. It costs about $60,000 to $80,000 to do Everest. For Antarctica, I’ll have to have about $200,000,” he estimated.
This is his first time running to raise funds for Animals Asia.
He has two favorite quotes: “Don’t live in the past or live in the future, but live in the moment,” and “When your will of winning is greater than your fear of losing, the impossible will cease to exist.”
Teh said his inspiration to set goals came after reading of feats of Mike Horn who completed a solo journey around the Equator in 2000 and a two-year, 3-month trek to the Arctic Circle.
People who want to donate to his fundraising efforts should go to http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/josephteh/longhaul100.
The cause he is raising money for in that race, Animals Asia, advocates for and rescues animals throughout Asia with three programs: End Bear Farming, Cat and Dog Welfare and Action against Cruelty.