The man who ran to Amsterdam returns

Earlier this year, Bondi resident Adam Yu boarded a plane to Europe with the goal of running solo from Barcelona to Amsterdam in under seven months. Having smashed his goal by reaching Amsterdam in just under 4 months, I caught up with a slightly slimmer (and hairier) Adam on his return to Sydney, to find out if he’d had any ‘aha’ moments on his long journey.


The 9-5 grind : a means to achieve our dreams

“I think that most people, without knowing me prior, thought I was going out to try and discover life and ‘find myself,” says Adam. “However, this whole thing was simply about acting on an idea that I just couldn’t stop thinking about, and showing others that our ideas are our purest form of motivation.”

Adam, a sales analyst, believes that many people feel a pressure or expectation to find a path in life that combines both financial and emotional rewards, but that people could be happier if they saw work as a means to an end – a financial key to unlock the door to your passions and dreams.

“The expectation of having a ‘passion’ can sometimes be a negative thing, sending people on self-enlightening searches that can seemingly last forever, trying to find that thing they love and can make an income from.”

“This journey was never about searching, but about doing something that had consumed my thoughts. It took nine times longer to plan it than it did to complete it, and my job was the best tool that I had to make it happen. I’ve never woken up excited about sales analysis, but I do go to work excited that I’m earning the money I need to pursue my passions.”


Powered by personal satisfaction

Not surprisingly, the most difficult part of the journey was the physical stress on his body. Adam did a lot of training leading up to the run, but doesn’t consider himself a ‘natural runner’.

“One day my hip would be terrible and the next it was fine and then something else would just go. I went through a period where I struggled massively with sleep and another where I was sleeping for up to 10 hours every night and still not recovering my energy. The variability of it all was taxing mentally and physically.”

Adam says that what helped him through these trials was the fact that he was ‘living out his own idea’.

“No one was telling me to do this run, I wasn’t under any pressure. I love adventure and it was amazing being somewhere new that I had never been before every day.”


Lessons from locals

Despite being very happy on his solo journey, his mind firmly on the finish-line goal, he took a few opportunities to have a bit of fun along the way. Stopping for a bit longer in postcard locations such as Milan, Italy and Palamos, Spain, he ventured out for a drink and a chat with locals, and was shouted a few rounds once people caught wind of his adventure.

“The conversations I had along the way were amazing,” recalls Adam. “I learnt so much from everyone’s perspective on motivation. There was always one common denominator, that everyone’s aspirational ideas lead them to do what they do for a living.”


The importance of nurturing ideas

Adam says that he hasn’t really changed as a person since he left, but that he did learn some lessons about patience and physical limits. He is now excited about his next steps, which will involve incorporating some conclusions he made along the way into his everyday life.

“With my belief that nothing will motivate us more than our own ideas and dreams, there is another important piece of that puzzle, which is generally having funds and time to make these ideas happen. The best tool we have to make these things happen is work, so I see a huge opportunity for organisations to put a strong emphasis on their employee’s ideas and to start nurturing them.”

Supporting others to achieve their goals

Another aspect of the run was to support and spread the word about Arts Access Australia (AAA), the peak body for arts and disability. The AAA work to increase opportunities and access for people with disability as artists, arts-workers, participants and audiences.

So far Adam has raised an impressive $14,000 towards their accessibility initiatives, as well as spreading their message to thousands of people.

You can still donate at
Follow The Man Who Ran To Amsterdam's future adventures and interviews with other passionate people via The Why You Collective.


Tracey @ What’s New Bondi x

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