▲ Han Dong Seub checks his running time after finishing first in the 2009 Jeju Marathon. Photo by Brian Miller
Jeju island is best known for its natural beauty, and that may be the main attraction for many tourists here, but it is the active and adventurous people who get to fully experience what this island has to offer. Those seeking an active lifestyle have many options, and for some, the Jeju Marathon is a great test of their skills.
Celebrating its 14th year, more than 5,000 people gathered to take place in the festivities on June 7 at the Gujwa Sports Park just outside of Jeju-si. With a scenic route along the coast down near Sunrise Peak and the beautiful Udo isand, people of all ages from around the island and neighboring countries came to participate.
Marathoner Paul Deveau summed up the experience thusly: "Other marathons I've done have been in the city, which is usually filled with traffic, but Jeju island is a quite beautiful course along the coast. Clean air, nice scenery, it's so amazing to see the farmers and fishermen saying hello, cheering you on as they're doing their daily chores."
With a 5k, 10k, half, and full marathon course, the field of competition was a good mix of both recreational and professional runners. Including hundreds of foreigners and even an old couple from Japan, Shimada Yusaku (80) and his wife Chuji (78), it was a memorable experience for many.
Meagan McGinley, an American English teacher on Jeju, came in third in the women's 10k competition. She used to run in college and even though she only runs for recreation purposes now, she still enjoys the experience. "I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but it was really just for fun,” she said. “There were cavemen throwing their clubs around at the front line, how can you not have fun?"
She ran the Hallim 10 km course back in March, which gave her a better idea of what to expect going into this event.
"As I was coming up to the finish, I was running with two men, and they weren't picking up the speed, and I wasn't feeling good, but you have to always finish hard, that's what our coaches always instilled in us,” she said.
▲ Laura Anderson, Ashleigh Gibson, Gretchen Deveau, Paul Deveau, Phillip Mannering, Amanda Lynch and Debbie Peachy pose with an Spiderman after finishing their races.
▲ A Japanese team celebrates after completing their race together.
A foreign English teacher and former resident of Jeju, Deveau, came from Chuncheon in Gangwon province to compete in this year's event. He originally intended on doing the full marathon last year, but because of an unexpected illness was unable to get himself ready in time.
“In the transition of moving from Canada to Jeju I got a bit sick. I wasn't able to do the full marathon last year, so I did the half. This was quite a long term goal for me and even deciding to leave Jeju, I still wanted to come back," he said.
His past experience includes competing in two full marathons, one in 2006 in Seoul. His experience in this event was a lot different.
Despite having finished in a longer time than his previous marathons, he was happy with his results. "It was the best marathon I ran in terms of properly pacing myself. I was quite pleased that I did negative split, my second half was faster than my first half. I was right on target for where I wanted to be. I finished strong."
It was a good experience for a lot of the runners, and has persuaded many people to come back for September's event as well as next spring’s marathon.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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