Every day we like to shine a spotlight on people doing amazing work — both with Charity Miles and without. Today we’re featuring Neo LothongKum, a Swede living in Thailand, environmentalist, and newbie Buddhist.

Here’s what he had to say:

What is your greatest accomplishment as of late?
My greatest accomplishment is a dream turning reality; I have determined to run through Thailand and have already started planning. I have a website and followers. It is going to happen!

A more immediate accomplishment has been completing my first competitive run, the annual Pattaya Marathon — 42 kilometers in the hot season. It was brilliant. I expected to take 5.3 hours and achieved a finishing time of 4.12 — and I wasn’t last in, as I landed 192 out of 731. I am so proud of myself.

How did you achieve it?
I start running about nine months ago when my local gym closed. I was missing the fitness and started to run — first one kilometer per day and then two and so on. When I saw my endurance improve from day to day, I realized that this could be something for me. A few month ago I decided to set up the run ‘999 KM from North Thailand to East Thailand’ and so started training for that. When I saw the marathon come up I thought, “OK, lets do it.”

What motivates you to make the world a better place?
It comes from within me, I can not explain it to people who don’t feel the same way. I am a Buddhist and I guess I am partially awakened. At least, I have started to open my eyes. It is like opening a radio station in my head; all the worries in the world telling me to do something. Also It is a selfish feeling, giving to other people is the most selfish thing you can do since you get so much back. Dalai Lama says without other people to help, we could not be happy.

What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
I never drank or smoked in my life — I thank my mother for that. She also made me strong to resist anything that comes my way. As a grown up, my Buddhist teaching is giving me power to just say no to anything unhealthy, teaching me that there is always a consequence to what we eat or do. I eat five to six time per day and most of it is fruit and vegetables and loads of water. There is one day per week when I eat normal food but then only because we share a fundraising dinner.

Almost everyday I go for a run or long walk and it really keeps my head clear, my body fit and keeps me connected to the local community.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Accept death, and with that also accept that our time here is limited. The brain works very well optimistically making us believe always there will be another day. There won’t.

What’s your favorite aspect of using Charity Miles?
Giving to others and connecting with other like minded people, and at the same time feeling fit.

Who do you exercise for, and why?
I exercise to stay healthy and so I can be more effective in helping others; but I like feeling fit too. I want to leave as small a footprint as I can when my time is up. I guess running is one of those things that does not require massive amounts of water to maintain a perfect pitch or gallons of fuel to power an engine. You just put on your shoes, which hopefully are made of recycled materials, and run. No air conditioning, no club membership, just freedom. But again, by running for others I run for myself because giving is the best feeling. That is why I am doing my 999 KM Run next January.

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