So, are you a runner? Are you one of those people who like to push themselves to the limit? Like, really, really the limit? Come autumn, Korea holds a slew of marathons and half-marathons for those who enjoy this self-induced torture (well, from my perspective) with many festivities and events to accompany them.
Korea is avid about marathons, not only because the perseverance and diligence which the sport requires are revered qualities, but also because of its significance in Korean history. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-Chung was the first to cross the finish line but when he took the stands to receive the Gold Medal, his expression was that of the utmost gloom and sadness. Korea was under the rule of the Japanese Empire at that time, so the flag on his uniform wasn’t Korea’s Taegukgi. The Korean daily Donga-Ilbo reported the news with the flag in the photo scratched out, resulting in the Japanese government shutting the newspaper down, and Sohn became a symbol of Korea’s fight for independence.
Sohn’s legacy has been carried on by many runners in the generations that followed, but it was at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when his Gold Medal feat was finally repeated by Hwang Young-Jo. Marathoner Lee Bong-Ju captured the Silver Medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and both Hwang and Lee have placed in top spots in various marathons around the world.
But marathons aren’t only about the pro athletes. Nowadays in this health-conscious modern society, marathons have become an activity to be shared by friends, colleagues, and family. As I’ve mentioned before, autumn is the season for marathons in Korea. Even if you don’t run, venturing out on a bright autumn day to cheer on the runners in their efforts can be an inspiring experience. If you are a runner, challenging yourself in one of the many marathons taking place might be just what you need.
Registration for the events has to be done in advance so check out the sites for the exact dates, while taking note of the entry fees and regulations. Many marathons accept the participation of foreigners; if you can’t register online, you may contact the offices by phone or fax for registration.
Here are some of the marathons scheduled for September ~ October, 2011:
- Seocho Marathon (서초 행복 마라톤) – http://seochomarathon.co.kr/
- 928 Seoul Marathon (서울 수복기념 해병대 마라톤대회) – http://www.928seoul.com
- 2011 Smile Marathon (스마일 마라톤) – http://www.smilerun.co.kr/
- Ganghwa Beach Marathon (강화 해변마라톤 대회) – http://www.incheonmarathon.co.kr
- Gyeonggi Peace Marathon (경기 평화통일 마라톤) – http://www.peacemarathon.org/
- Smiling Dalseo Marathon (웃는 얼굴 마라톤) - http://smilingmarathon.kr
- Lake Daecheong Marathon (대청호 마라톤) – http://race.puru.net
- Nationwide Couples & Family Marathon (전국 부부 가족 마라톤) – http://www.jjrun.com/
The Cheorwon DMZ International Peace Marathon (철원 DMZ 국제평화 마라톤), the Sunsa Marathon Festival (선사 마라톤 축제), and the Cnews Half Marathon (국토사랑 건설경제 하프 마라톤) have already taken place at the beginning of September, but check out their sites for information for the next season.
- Dong-A Ilbo Gongju Marathon (동아일보 공주 마라톤) & Gyeongju International Marathon (경주 국게 마라톤)
Donga–Ilbo has become inseparable from Korean marathon history and consequently has become host of the most notable marathons in Korea. The Seoul International Marathon, also hosted by Donga-Ilbo, takes place in the spring.
- Pink Ribbon Love Marathon (핑크리본 마라톤) – http://www.pinkcampaign.com
A charity marathon for breast cancer awareness, the marathon takes place in 5 cities on the same date of October 9th: Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, and Gwangju.
- Hi Seoul Marathon (하이 서울 마라톤) – http://www.hiseoulmarathon.com/
- International Peace Marathon Festival (국제평화 마라톤) – http://www.peacemarathon.co.kr/
- Nongmin Marathon (농촌사랑 마라톤) – http://nongminmarathon.com/
- Munhwa Ilbo Reunification Marathon (문화일보 통일 마라톤) – http://marathon.munhwa.com/
- Energizer Nightrace 2011 (에너자이저 나이트 레이스) – http://energizer-nightrace.co.kr/
- Masters Championship Marathon (평택항 국제마라톤) - http://www.ptsports.kr/
- Gyeongin Ara Marathon (경인 아라뱃길 개장기념 마라톤) – http://www.aramarathon.com/
- Busan Sea Half-Marathon(부산바다 하프 마라톤) – http://marathon.busan.com/
- Incheon Songdo Marathon (인천 송도 마라톤) – http://www.songdorun.com/
- Gyeonggi Tongil Marathon (경기 통일 마라톤) – http://marathontongil.org/
- Chosun Ilbo Chuncheon Marathon (조선일보 춘천 마라톤) - http://marathon.chosun.com/
- Geochang Apple Marathon (거창 사과 마라톤) - http://www.gafmarathon.com/
- Hwasun Goindol Marathon (화순 고인돌 전국 마라톤) - http://www.goindolmarathon.co.kr/