While on a vacation, getting in a healthy dose of exercise on a marathon might be the last thing on your mind. But what if the race took you to a new land, with a new culture to explore amongst the brilliant crimson and golden autumn foliage? More and more, travelling far away to run a half or full marathon has become an attractive goal for today’s runners. This was the case for twelve runners from Singapore, where RunSociety recently accompanied for the Chosun Ilbo Chuncheon International Marathon race report. Along with their families, the group of athletes enjoyed an eight day and six night long tour that took them through the myriad of adventures in Seoul.
In addition to running the marathon, the group were able to experience everything from majestic palaces to massive skyscrapers. They satisfied their shopping urges at the shopping districts of Myeongdong and night markets, and they had hands-on experiences by learning to make Kimchi and picking juicy Korean pears. Asiana Airlines ushered the sightseers around Korea, taking them to famous locations like the World Heritage Site at Jeju Island, and Nami Island where the popular TV Drama Winter Sonata was filmed. When everything was said and done, the athletes rounded out their stay with a fabulous Hanjeongsik gala dinner and a winner walking away with the grand prize of an air ticket to any worldwide destination on Asiana airlines.
The Day of the Chosun Ilbo Chuncheon International Marathon
Organised by Dynasty Travel and supported by the Singapore-based Korean Tourism Organisation, the eight day and six night vacation package had been specially designed to cater to Singaporean competitors for the Chuncheon Marathon in Gangwon-do. In the charming capital, accented with pristine lakes built by dams and fiery, fall-colored mountains, the dramatic landscape served as the backdrop for the race. Chuncheon is also known for its spicy-hot chicken dish, dakgalbi. With its close proximity to Seoul, the location for the marathon is popular for weekend excursions.
Unlike races in Singapore, the Chosun Ilbo Chuncheon International Marathon commences at nine in the morning, which is the ideal time to allow for participants to rest well, have a good breakfast, and arrive to the race well stretched and warmed up. With the sun higher in the sky, even the air itself begins to warm a little, which makes running much more enjoyable. At the Vivaldi Park Oak Resort, the runners were treated to a sizable breakfast spread, and then were taken to the starting location of the race about an hour away.
By the time nine o’clock rolled around, the ground was covered in fog and the sky was still partially obscured by clouds. The contestants from Singapore had to adjust to the climate for the race, while their hearts pounded with anticipation and their veins surged with adrenaline as they lined up in the timed starting zones. As shown in the following overview of Chuncheon Marathon route, they were about to experience one of the most scenic routes in Korea. The 10 kilometer and 42 kilometer races began at Gongjicheon Bridge and finished at Gongjicheon Soccer Field.
Overview of Chuncheon Marathon Route
- First 5 kilometers. The race begins on a trail leading towards Uiam Lake, which is covered in several sharp inclines and steep declines. Entrants from previous marathons have noted that this is a very challenging segment. Participants in the 10 kilometer race turn around at the reservoir.
- 10-15 kilometers. This path eases off onto flat terrain, which is an almost leisurely route along the picturesque Uiam Lake.
- 15-20 kilometers. Despite the 300 meter uphill run from the 16 kilometer marker to Gangseo Middle School, this portion of the race is fairly light.
- 20-25 kilometers. Here, the runners take their second turn at a gas station and then run another 625 meters on Sinme Bridge before turning off at the end of the bridge.
- 25-30 kilometers. This leg of the course that runs along the Chuncheon Dam is a long uphill trail where many runners tend to slow down or drop out of the marathon. It runs from the entrance to the Saemmul Garden to the front of the Shinbuk Church, and those who stick with it experience breathtaking views of nature up ahead!
- 30-35 kilometers. This is one of the final trials for runners, who face more hills from Shinbuk Church to the Shindong three-way intersection.
- 35-40 kilometers. From the Shindong three-way intersection to the terminal car wash is mainly flat land. Marathon runners can see the mulit-lane roadways that lead to Chuncheon city from here.
- 40 kilometers and the finish. The final 2.195 kilometers stretch to the finish line is straighter and wider.
The Chuncheon Marathon Race Results
By 11 o’clock, the fog has burned off and the sun has chased away all of the clouds. The temperature has risen to 13.2 degrees by the time most of the 10 kilometer contestants cross the finish line. Large crowds have already begun to fill the stadium near Gongjicheon Park, basking in the sunlight with their friends.
At the end of the marathon, several Singaporean runners have achieved their personal best times. Hui Jun, a 29-year-old treasury accountant and contender in the 42 kilometer race, excitedly remarked,
“I completed the Chuncheon Marathon in 3 hours and 33 minutes. This is my third marathon and it is my current personal best! My friends found the race online and we read that the route would be very scenic.
On race day, the crowd was enthusiastic and that lifted my spirits. As the runners approach the water points and sponge stations, the helpers and school volunteers would cheer ecstatically. I was impressed that a few groups of people voluntarily set up extra water points to support runners who need hydration!
I enjoyed the run and was captivated by the beautiful autumn surroundings. When I looked into the distance, Lake Uiamho is misty and surreal. Among the participants, I noticed that many runners are veterans and there were not many young runners.
My encouragement to Singaporeans is to consider running the Chuncheon Marathon, you will be rewarded with scenic views that are hard to find in the local races, which are held in urban areas. It is not a flat course so you will feel a great sense of achievement when you cross the finish line!”
Overall, the 2014 Chosunilbo Chuncheon International Marathon featured 25,609 participants. This number includes twenty-two world class competitors from overseas and abroad. Nixon Kurgat, a 26-year-old runner from Kenya, won the 42 kilometer race by clocking in at 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 10 seconds. This broke last year’s record by 1 minute and 19 seconds. It was Kurgat’s personal best. Jeon Jingu, a 21-year old runner from Korea, took the title of the Male Elite Category Champion when he finished the race in 2 hours 15 minutes and 7 seconds.
Come See for Yourself
Does the running in the Chuncheon Marathon sound like something you might enjoy? There are even more things to see and do in and around Seoul, and this article was merely a small sampling of it. Be on the lookout for the next installment, where we’ll highlight activities for when you’re in town for the marathon.