Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mar20 - Seoul Marathon 2011

Keat Seong, Siok Leng & myself arrived on Friday late night whilst Raymond on Thurs night. Weather upon arrival was about 5°C. So comparison to our tropical country, its cooollld.
 On Saturday morning, we made our way to Donga (organiser) office to collect our race pack; which was located near City Hall subway. Just a small office for a bunch of international racers to cramp into.
 With our luck we bumped into super runner, Uncle Yee & wife along with Alexis.
Kit provided was a race plastic bag, our bib, timing chip, race booklet (all in korean) and a NB discount voucher
 I didn't quite study the route before hand, but all I know from Keat Seong that it was flat flat flat
It was one of the rarest marathon event I've run that starts at 8am in the morning. So all of us had a good night sleep. But to our luck, weather had predicted it to rain instead. Not too much fearing the wet but more towards the cold. And I was right to worry.
 We arrived an hour before the event at Gwanghwamun Square. Took shelter at the subway station to prepare ourselves eg. pin bib, timing chip, change into our race gear. Even raincoats was being sold.
 Gyeongbok-Gung Palace
Then we had to rush to the luggage trucks to drop off our race plastic bags as our finish area is somewhere else. This was when 4 of us got split up. I went running up & down the race area looking for Keat Seong, to no avail. At times I would take refuge at a fire torch just to warm my hands. 
 Statue of King Sejong the Great
Found Raymond taking shelter, all wrapped up
As for me, I'm all dolled up with a pink raincoat, shivering. Everytime I took my camera out from my armpouch, my fingers go numb. I had to take off my gloves to use the camera coz my gloves was wet from the rain.
 Suddenly I saw a few mini skirt ladies ran by and I'm thinking. "What the...?" I'm like in my compression, long sleeves & a raincoat. Then, I heard music in the air. Warm up session. Wahhh!!! Keng!!! I wouldn't even have the strength to move my limbs nor smile to do that. Salute!!
We were divided among our subtime. I had submitted my Tarako Gorge time of sub4.30hr. And placed in Category D. Category E is the last at sub5hr (cutoff time was sub5hr). I'm like huh?? There's actually A-C that's like freaking fast runners in Korea. Plus, there's a barricade of humans to separate the category. Such discipline.
 That's the Statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin on the left. Screwed the warmup or stretch session coz I didn't wanna move away from the fire torch. Learnt a tip. When raining, wrap shoes with plastic bag. Only when you start moving forward towards the starting line, then take it off.
 I felt Seoul Marathon was a colourful event. Everyone was soo bright. There's a huge range of sports apparel in Seoul that's pretty affordable......to them.
 Supporters out in the rain to perk your day
 I can so vividly remember running along the Cheonghyecheon Stream side road. It isn't nice to see people running back on the other road coz you'll always be thinking "Where's the bloody U-turn?" This stream is extremely loonnng and it felt endless but as a tourist, it is beautiful with the lights all lit up at night.

Usually in runs, we always encounter so-called "runners" taking a stroll, holding hands, walking side to side etc, where it's quite irritating zigzagging thru them. But in Seoul, instead of me, overtaking the runners, I'm being passed left & right. There's Koreans are FAST!! And we're not talking the young or middle age runners.
 Passing by the burnt Sungyemun Gate at the 19km mark. Read about the story here and here. Such a pity a historical site would be destroyed with such hatred.
Most of the supporters would pick junctions to setup their performance. This was a rather unique of bike spin-dance routine along side with drums.
 The only tunnel along the route. I think I kinda bonk at the 25km mark. I was cold, I was wet and I wanted to pee.
Traffic was well managed by the organisers. Though pedestrian would take the risk of just crossing in front of us. At some point, there were even police along the streets but facing outwards (back against us) to prevent people from running on to the road. Water station was well-equipped. I think I request for less things when I'm in a well organised run eg. vaseline, plaster, counterpain etc. Weird....

The Jamsil Bridge crossing over the Han River was pure mental. Eventhough the rain had stopped, but that didn't stop the wind from blowing. The last 10km was just too long. After the bridge, we passed the Lotte World amusement park. I could see the amusement rides calling out to me but that wasn't even tempting me away from the pain.
 More city pine tress. Siok Leng said that these are fake pine trees. Pine trees are suppose to be nice & comforting. Just another 1km in front is the turning to the Sports Complex, our finish point.
 The Seoul Olympic Stadium (Jamsil) in Seoul, was the main stadium built for the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 10th Asian Games. I was wearing the raincoat for the whole 41km, and the photographers didn't even attract me coz they weren't able to see my bib number. At this point, all off (I mean the raincoat), got my body accustomed to the temperature. And ran with pride.
I think this is the first time I ran into an Olympic Stadium. Previous ones were just Stadium. Get it?! =p
 Finish line is just another 400m away
Dedication to the recent tsunami incident in Japan
 Keat Seong said I looked like a wrapped wanton (but in truth he said i dressed more like auntie, but that would be an insult to all the lenglui aunties around)
As for him, he got his PB here. He's just shy to say it. He was all wrapped up with Skins compression, tights, top, sleeves except the calves & beanie.

 Face was too frozen to smile properly
 I timed a ok 4hrs24mins. I did wanted to at least get a 4hrs10mins but with the weather conditions, it was a wishful thinking. I maintained a good time for the 30km. After that, it was downhill from there.
10km - 56:35
20km - 56:41
30km - 1:01:34
40km - 1:12:49
42km - 16:32
Participants shirt
Actually, it felt like I was running in Singapore (minus the East Coast Park) in zigzags to get the 42km. It wasn't a scenic route as it was city city city the whole way. Mother Nature must have been pretty pissed off. It didn't rain on Sat nor Mon. Just on that particular Sun morning.
Hard earned medal

Sorry no pics of the stadium after the run as it was nearly 1pm, and I was cold, hungry & lost. Category D & E luggage was placed further away from the finished line. I was shivering right down to my bones. Found out that the race plastic bag provided wasn't waterproof, so a few of my clothes got wet.
In my opinion, no, I don't think I will do this again. Buttttttt....in a 4 seasons country, there are other season runs as well, such as the Chuncheon Marathon in October. That should be around Spring/Autumn. The perfect weather *wink*


Raymond said...

I like the sub5hr qualifying time-to eliminate the 'fun' marathoners or slower runners. May sound arrogant but the truth is, wanna join a marathon, train for it and not call oneself a marathoner if u were to reach the finishing line 6hrs later!

Dong-A Seoul is definitely not for the newbies-this adds the quality of a marathon race

Jenn Jenn said...

I consider myself slow already loh compared to these korean runners

Staad said...

Enjoy reading your running trips! Thanks for sharing and keep them coming.:)