A pioneer in Asia
Though he may be considered a key player in the outdoor sports scene in Asia, Ryan was in fact born on the West Coast of America. During university Ryan spent a year living in Hong Kong and exploring China and Vietnam while also studying International Business at Hong Kong University. After returning to the US and graduating from Santa Clara University in California, he was on a flight just a few days later back to Hong Kong.
"I was attracted to explore Asia so much more. Hong Kong was the ideal base, with its abundant ocean and mountains, and how its nature and the city are so close to each other…. so after living in Hong Kong in '92-3 for a year I came back in '95 and went straight to the Himalayas in Northern India and Nepal for a year.
Later, after returning to Hong Kong and managing a few music and extreme sports events, I joined with new partners to organize the first Adventure Race in Hong Kong and later Asia's first international series of Adventure races.
There were no adventure race events in Hong Kong back then. Ryan had competed as racer in his first adventure race in the US in 1995. "Immediately, I was captivated and I thought, 'This is what I want to do!' "
"So in '98, we organized organized the first Hong Kong adventure race, "Action Asia Challenge." We soon had National Geographic as our broadcast partner, and things blew up regionally. My Race Director role expanded to Managing Director as we launched events in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, and developed it into series of races. We also developed a charity to help underprivileged youth and raised money through the events. Adventure Racing became my life."
Later, Ryan and a new partner started a group of outdoor companies, APA Group, involved with outdoor education, corporate teambuilding, adventure film production, athlete management and more, with adventure racing most often playing a key theme in programs and events. APA's Athlete team, The North Face Adventure Team, soon became the leading adventure sports team in the region with adventure racing one of the key focused sports for the team.
In the world of outdoor sports, there are cases of leaders in the field who have achieved a lot as participants, later, getting involved in the operation of events to help develop the sport. Ryan did it the other way around though. As a racer, he would end up winning numerous titles, but his career at first was as an event organizer. He is a pioneer of the Asian adventure sport world and a fascinating story.