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Fog beats race organizersWeather shortens International Triathlon
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승인 2010.07.31  19:31:35
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▲ Husband and wife Hiroyoki and Maki Nishiuchi placed third and second in the men's and women's sections. Park Byung Hoon was first after the bike section but fell back to second place by the end of the run. Photos courtesy Korea International Triathlon Organizing Committee

Yet again, another international sporting event on Jeju has been marred by the island’s weather. As with the Ballantine’s Golf Championship held in April, the 2010 Korea International Triathlon Jeju was the victim of extreme fog, and also experienced a turbulent sea and sporadic rain showers. These conditions forced event organizers to seek approval from the World Triathlon Corporation, the overseeing body of the race, to cancel the 3.8 km swim course due to safety concerns. On the morning of July 11, shortly before the race was to begin at 7 a.m., the request was granted and the 2010 KITJ was reduced to a biathlon.

Coinciding with the 11th anniversary of the Jeju race, the 2010 KITJ was assigned 50 qualifying slots for the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, later this year. Not originally sanctioned as an Ironman qualifier, the WTC was required to find a suitable location in Asia after the Japan Ironman race, scheduled for June 13, was canceled due to widespread foot-and-mouth disease among livestock, said KITJ operational president Lee Hee Bong.

Ironman qualifiers were held on Jeju from 2000 to 2007, when the contract between the KITJ and the WTC expired. Jeju was hoping to regain the event in 2011, but the cancelation of the swim portion of this year’s race makes their bid to assign future Ironman slots “a little risky,” Lee said.

Though the race was truncated, Lee said that those who finished in the top 50 positions would still have qualified for the Ironman Championship.

The KITJ course was a grueling 226.195 km race (222.395 km without the swim) that could have circumnavigated the island, but was held solely in Seogwipo so that the street closures, a common side effect of large-scale competitions, would cause fewer problems for motorists on the less populated southern side of Jeju, Lee said.

The race was delayed by one hour and instead of beginning at Jungmun Beach with a mad dash toward the ocean, began at 8 a.m. at the beach’s parking lot. The 887 competitors, hailing from all over the world, took to their bikes for a 180.2-km ride that went as far east as Sinyang-ri, which sits in the shadow of Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong) and as far west as Daejeong-eup. Lee said that Jeju offers great terrain for the bike course with varying scenery that the competitors enjoy and that keeps them from becoming bored during the longest section of the race.

The first to dismount from his bike and to head into the run was Park Byung Hoon, who Lee said prior to the event was the favorite to win the KITJ. With a time of 4:41 for the cycling section, Park had roughly a 30-minute lead on the next contestant.

As competitors traded in their bikes for their running shoes at the transition point and finish line of World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, the rain began to let up and turned into a slight drizzle. Few fans could be seen, but the announcers enthusiastically encouraged the runners. The 42.195-km run was three laps from just west of the stadium to the intersection before the entrance to Jungmun village.

It was a frenetic sight as those on their bikes came barreling towards the stadium. At first they were few and far between, but before long there were clumps of competitors skidding to a halt at the transition line then dashing to the changing tent hoping there would be a chance to catch Park.

Ham Yeon Sik came in first, having passed Park in the run and edged him out by a mere four minutes with a final time of 8:04:54. In the woman’s division Emi Shiono of Japan finished first with a time of 9:03:20. The oldest competitor of the day, Sumio Endoh of Japan, at 76, not only finished the race, but did so in 13:39:49.

Lee said that this event, due to its Ironman qualifier designation, was worth 3 billion won in combined revenue and marketing value for Jeju. That is three billion reasons for the island to try and regain the coveted IQ status, though Jeju’s unpredictable weather, which has caused the swim portion to be canceled several times throughout the years, may prevent its return, despite Lee describing the island as “the most appropriate environment for long distance triathlons.”






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