▲ Thousands gather to run full, half or 10K courses at the 16th Jeju Marathon Festival, June 12. Photo by Daniel Quick
There were many tired bodies on Jeju Island on Monday, including mine. On Sunday, I ran a half-marathon race as part of the 16th Jeju Marathon Festival. Approximately 5,000 people participated in the event, including some 270 visitors from Japan and lots of mainlanders. According to organizers, there were about 60 Western expats.
On offer were a full-marathon (26.2 miles/42.1 kilometers), a half-marathon (13.1 miles/21 kilometers), a running 10K (6.2 miles), and a walking 10K. The event took place at Gujwoa Life Sports Park along Gimnyeong Beach to the east of Jeju City.
Registration for the event ostensibly closed in April, though many participants mentioned having been allowed to sign up as recently as a few days ago. The half-marathon fee was 30,000 won, which included snacks, water, sports drinks, a T-shirt, a free lunch voucher, and – the best part – a medal for everyone!
▲ And they're off! The full and half marathon runners departed en masse at 9 a.m. on June 12 in Jeju City. Photo by Daniel Quick
As this was my first race, I followed a 10-week training plan from the magazine Runner's World, for which I started off running 19-21 miles (30.5/33.8 kilometers) per week and eventually worked up to 32-34 miles (51.5/54.7 kilometers) per week.
One of the surprisingly hard parts of my training was trying to find places to run where I would not get hit by speeding cars, chased by dogs, or be forced to struggle up and down hills. I spent a lot of my time at a high-school track fighting for space with power-walking ajummas and 17-year-old boys. So, after 10 weeks of training, I was tired, but ready.
It was a cloudy and rainy morning at the Gujwoa Life Sports Park, which was very lucky for the participants – in all of their short-shorted glory. The race would have been much more difficult in hot and sunny weather. All the runners followed the same course – a there and back route along the coast. The views are supposedly incredible, but it was difficult to see due to the heavy fog and cloud cover.
Lily Tran, a teacher from the UK who ran in the half-marathon, was also enthusiastic about the conditions, saying, “The combination of heavy overcast and light sea breeze turned out to be perfect conditions for long distance running -- even giving the route a mystical quality.”
▲ Girls in haenyeo (Jeju diving women) costumes entertain as runners slowly filter back to the finish line. Photo by Daniel Quick
The marathon and half-marathon runners started together at 9 a.m., with the 10K runners starting at 9:10 a.m., and the walkers at 9:20 a.m. Water stations were located every 2.5 kilometers, with bananas, marshmallow cream pies, and water sponges provided after the 5K mark. Porter potties and distance signs were spaced along the route, though the distances on the way back just related to the full marathon. Along with everything being in kilometers, I spent most of my time making various calculations and estimations about how much distance was left – which, perhaps, served as a good distraction.
Several expat runners, including myself, had an extra bit of encouragement in their shoes due to the fact that they were running for charity. As fundraising for a good cause when physically torturing yourself is the norm in the West, we organized our own race-related fundraiser (jejuorphanages.yolasite.com) for two orphanages located in Jeju City.
Thanks to the generosity of friends and family here and back home, we were able to raise more than expected and will be able to provide the orphanages with a lot of needed supplies such as socks, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and school supplies.
This was also a positive factor in our training, which Tran touched on when she said, “Knowing that I was running for a good cause was really motivating, and I’m looking forward to visiting the orphanages.”
Though we will finish our fundraiser this week, the Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission (KKOOM - www.kkoom.org) is an American non-profit organization with extremely low overhead that is always accepting donations to support its work with Korean orphanages.
The festival as a whole was fun and well-organized. There was music, food vendors, traditional Korean dancers, and even confetti. The infrastructure was also good, with many expats arriving on shuttle buses that were available to and from the Jeju Bus Terminal and Seogwipo City.
My favorite part of the race was definitely the good vibes and sportsmanship that permeated the atmosphere. There were smiling children cheering at every leg of the race, friendly people at the water stations, and best of all - extraordinarily friendly and supportive fellow runners. Everyone cheered each other on and cries of "Fighting!" [a common expression in modern Korean] were frequent.
E’vone Starks, an American who ran in the half-marathon, put it best. She said, “I had a lot of fun, especially because everyone was so friendly. When I started slowing down at one point, an older man even ran with me to keep my pace up. I felt bad for eventually smoking him, but the vibes there were just great. I am excited for the race in October… well, I will be, as soon as my legs recover!”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Song Jung Hee Copyright ⓒ 2009 All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published without the prior consent of jeju weekly.com.