First Asian-American to Run an Official Marathon on Every Continent Reveals How He Overcame Personal Adversity

Jeff Tan takes on the Antarctic Ice Marathon

L.A.-based Jeff Tan escaped religious fundamentalism and racism to achieve what he thought was impossible.

My goal has always been to help people become self-aware of their own perceived limitations. To hypothesize whether these are right and put these to the test.”
— Jeff Tan
LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, January 12, 2022 / -- On Dec 18th, 2021, Los Angeles resident Jeff Tan completed the Antarctic Ice Marathon under grueling conditions to become the first Asian-American to run an official marathon (26.1mi/42.2km) on all seven continents.

Tan, 40, was not always an avid runner. There was a time when he could barely cross the three-mile threshold. His determination to overcome adversity and previous self-limitations are what got him across the finish line.

"I never considered myself athletic at school. I had chosen to believe I couldn't possibly do anything sporty - certainly not a marathon nor pushing my body under extreme conditions. It was a mindset that was exactly...well...just a mindset, a boundary, a piece of misinformation that I had told myself, and believed. I now call these inherited limitations."

Tan was born to strict Evangelical Singaporean parents in Sydney, Australia. Rejected and bullied at school and unable to pursue activities outside of regimented study at home, Tan suffered from isolation and low self-esteem.

“Three macro forces were all I knew - a prison-like religion that taught me I was worthless, a Chinese culture that only valued academia, and a white working-class environment that I felt rejected me for not being a certain way. My inherited limitations were that I had to conform to these cultures," noted Tan.

A book is on the horizon in 2024. “Born Again” is a coming-of-age memoir about how Tan at age 17 unshackled himself from these limitations to discover a life of possibility.

“The racist bullying had pushed me to the limit and something had to change,” Tan said. “I begged my God to make it stop, and gave a one-week timeline. But in fact, it got worse. So, I forced a deliberate and systematic review of every aspect of my life that was making me miserable, transforming my outlook completely and rejecting the norms I had simply accepted until then.”

Since then, Tan has traveled and lived around the world and works as the head of innovation at Dentsu, one of the largest advertising agencies globally. In addition to his memoir, he has taken up running to drive his mission forward of empowering others to let go of their inherited limitations.

Accomplishing the Antarctic Ice Marathon at Union Glacier was by far his biggest achievement yet. Bracing temperatures of -4F (-20C) and katabatic winds, Tan was literally out of his element.

“My face buff froze solid and I had to pull it down to breathe, exposing my nose and cheeks to the stinging air. The fresh powder from a recent storm felt like running in deep sand. Yet, in my mind, the extreme conditions were like my childhood obstacles - barriers I could overcome. The sheer beauty of Antarctica certainly helped push through. There was brilliant white ice in every direction, and I was surrounded by the majestic Ellsworth Mountain ranges. It was simply stunning."

“My goal has always been to help people become self-aware of their own perceived limitations. To hypothesize whether these are right and put these to the test. To hold themselves accountable to breaking free. Joining the 7 Continents Marathon Club was exactly that for me - proof I could overcome my internal beliefs to join just 388 people in the world who have run a marathon on every continent.”

Learn more about Jeff Tan and his personal mission at

About: Jeff Tan is the first Asian American to run a marathon on all seven continents. He is the author of the upcoming memoir, “Born Again”, and the head of innovation at Dentsu, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. His goal is to inspire people to identify and break free from their inherited limitations. He drives his mission forward via running, speaking, and writing.

Nadya Rousseau
Alter New Media LLC
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