Report from Bruce Carse.
During our recent holiday to South Korea, Nina and I thought it might be fun to see if there was any races happening while we were there, and sure enough there was – the Jeju Marathon Festival with 10K, half and full marathon options. We thought it best just stick to the 10k, because we all know that 10ks are ‘easy’, right!?
Getting our race packs posted out was a bit of a problem, so we ended up picking them up a couple of days before the race at their office. This turned out to be an excellent plan, as the race organisers asked us to come along to a huge banquet dinner at a posh hotel the night before the race, so we obliged and went along and listened to some important people giving speeches and then stuff ourselves with free food. They also gave us a very nice souvenir book of Jeju Island stamps!?
Anyway, the race itself started at the Guwja Life Sports stadium, and there was a great atmosphere with plenty of music, sunshine, lots of free food and plenty of supporters. It was pretty warm and humid, but it was by the seaside so a bit of a breeze took the edge off the heat.
The 10K race set off 10 mins after the full and half marathons. As it followed the same out-and-back route, this meant overtaking hoards of runners on the way out, and then battling head-on back through them on the way back (plus all the 10K runners) which made life interesting. Especially when they starting trying to high-5 me. I was in the lead at the 5km turn point, and although I wasn’t feeling particularly fast thought I’d better try and hang on. Pouring a cup of sports drink over my head (thought it was water!) didn’t really help matters. Despite a killer last km straight into the wind I managed to keep the pace up to come 1st in the unlikely winning time of 36.34.
Turns out South Korea is the place to win a race. There was a proper podium presentation from one of the ‘important people’ who spoke at the previous evening’s dinner, a wreath of olive leaves to wear on my head, a certificate mounted in a leather folder, a big glass trophy, and 300,000 Won of department store vouchers! The best bit of post-race entertainment was the comedy red-stiletto-dash which involved tired 10k runners putting on high heels and trying to outsprint each other. One for next year’s B-in-the-park perhaps? They also had some quality giant animal heads for some of the other races (see picture). I reckon the committee should invest in some of these for Bella race days.
All in all, this was a pretty memorable race. And goes to show it’s definitely worth taking your trainers on holiday. A few photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/bellarr/