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Sahn Hahng Tai Bo (AKA Bill Purves) – Lifelong journeyman

by Don

Bill Purves is a 65 year old race walker, who has lived in Canada, Newfoundland, Switzerland, and who now lives in Hong Kong. Bill has used race walking to build links to the community in all the places around the globe that he has lived. Bill is well known in Hong Kong by the handle Sahn Hahng Tai Bo, a Chinese name he took on when he moved to Hong Kong. Sahn Hahng Tai Bo is a character from a 14th century Chinese novel about a troupe of bandits. Sahn Hahn Tai Bo was one of the bandits, and he had the mystic power of being able to walk for hundreds of miles after invoking certain incantations.

Bill considers himself a lifelong journeyman. In high school he ran cross country, and was never one of the best runners. Bill got started race walking when his college coach told him he was doing the race walk for points, and that he really didn’t need him in the running events. He has adopted the philosophy of being a journeyman in race walking, although he is quite accomplished, making the Canadian national team in 1971 and 1972.

Bill is the author of a number of books, the most popular being about his 100 day journey, walking through the rural areas of China, learning about the Chinese peasants. He is currently finishing a book about his experience in adopting an extremely difficult training program used by the Chinese Olympic race walkers, once again the story of a journeyman.

Race walking has shaped Bill’s life in many ways. Through it, he has enjoyed great racing success, he has used it to assimilate in various countries, it is the inspiration for his books, he enjoys it very much, and he even met his wife through race walking.


If you’ve been to this site before, you may have noticed two new pages. One is to facilitate subscribing, whereby you can get an email when there is new content posted. The other is a page outlining a new program I’m launching, called the 50,000 Athlete Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to recruit 50,000 people, who currently do not have a goal in a sport or athletic activity, and get them to adopt some of the healthy habits of the atheletes I’ve been interviewing.  I am also recruiting people to help me with the 50,000 Athlete Challenge, and I’m calling these people Foot Soldiers. For more information, go to the 50,000 Athlete Challenge page.


If you are an athlete 50 or over and interested in being interviewed, please email me at

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