Posted by: bodking | May 16, 2010

Seawall Race

I just got back from the Saemangeum Seawall, the home of the Gunsan Marathon. I ran in the 10km race.  I found out about the race a couple of weeks after I arrived in Korea and running and getting in shape for the race has been really good in giving me something to focus on and some purpose in my first weeks here.
So even before I arrived, it was a positive experience.  I drove there with my coworker Ray and my Korean friend Saint.  We found out  that there would be 14,000 runners doing the marathon, half-marathon, 10k, and 5k races.
The Saemangeum Seawall  is the world’s largest dyke.  It’s a part of a massive land reclamation project to add hundreds of square kilometers to the Korean landmass to provide space for industry, agriculture, commerce and a brand new city.  It’s of course controversial for its cost and its impact to the environment – this area is proud of if its migratory birds and there’s worry that the project will affect the birds.  That said  it’s beautiful and today was a picture-perfect day.  Sunny and around 70 degrees with a light breeze.  The scenery was gorgeous – islands off in the distance shrouded by a silky layer of haze, fishing boats hard at work and massive white wind mills.

The meeting area was a carnival atmosphere.  The highlight of the pre-race was a group stretch with a gorgeous woman leading the assembled runners through a basic routine.  They then played the theme from Star Wars and shot off a bunch of fire works and flares.  After the marathon and half marathon runners started, the 10km runners were on our way.  There was a lot of weaving around walkers – it was obvious that some high percentage of the 14000 had no intention of running.  I ran with Ray and a 53 year-old man who decided to run with us – Kim Jeon.  He kept a pretty good pace and I didn’t mind chatting with him till we got towards the end and I needed every breath just to go on.
I finished the race in one hour which was exactly my goal.  As a prize I was given a medal, a glass of beer, a kilo sack of rice, and some gatorade.   If I had come in the top ten, I would have won 10 kilos of rice.  Maybe at the next race, maybe in some other city….

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Responses

  1. hey when is the next gunsan marathon and how do i sign up thanks alot.

  2. Hi
    When I taught english in Korea in 2002 I ran a few half marathons. One that I liked was the Jeonju Kunsan cherry blossom race in April. My wife was a very good runner and ran in 1:35:00 winning a medal in the process. I finished in 2:02:00 (no prizes) She used to win trophies in other races as well including sacks of rice and even a stereo system We enjoyed running in Korea and working out at the stadiums. Runners in Korea love their stadiums and would routinely run 60-80 400 meter laps.
    Thanks for your blog. It seems you are enjoying yourself in Korea as well.


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