Being a large Caucasian guy in South Korea is a weird experience. As I warm up for the Hi Seoul 10K run, a TV news crew fixates on me. The camera sweeps over me. Records every move. Captures every lunge, backbend, hamstring stretch.
It’s been like this since I stepped off the bus from Incheon to Seoul. I’ve caught so many glances from the corner of someone’s eye. The Koreans have been discrete. And no look has been hostile. Just curious.
The 10k race (and the marathon and half-marathon) brings out the few other Caucasian types — expats who make their living as a English teachers. They stick together in their own cluster before the race.
I’m by myself, though. Sarah went to line up with the half-marathon crew. At 6’2 with a long mop of hair, it’s no wonder the camera hovers inches from a lone white guy like me.
If the TV crew expected me to be fast, they were mistaken. The gun goes off to start the 10K race. I thread my way through the crowd. As the theme from Star Trek Voyager plays, I’m penned into the pack. After about a mile, I can finally reach a natural stride.
The 6-mile route takes me to parts of workaday Seoul. I move to pass someone — and discover that I’m about to plow over a lad who comes up to my solar plexus. His dad notices that I’ve revved up to pass, and pulls him out of the way.
Soon, I’m at the finish line. I paw through my race goodie bag — I find canned spicy chicken and chopsticks. My sweat and the morning breeze make me shiver.
I wait for Sarah to finish her 13.1 miles — and just enjoy being an oddity in Seoul.
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Sounds like a lot of fun! Your description of the race and your experience had me chuckling…the visual is quite funny! I will be visiting Seoul in Oct. of this year with friends, and one of the friends and I are planning to run in an ‘organized’ run; she will run a half-marathon and I, a 10K. Any suggestions which one might be a good one to run in? The weekend of Oct. 6/7 is the only weekend that will be available for a run, as we will be ‘galavanting around town’
Many thanks for any suggestions you might have;
Hi, CJ. Glad you enjoyed the post! It looks like the 2012 Hi Seoul Marathon (which also includes half-marathon and 10k courses) will be Oct. 7. I found it on this site:
When you want to try another great run, go to Iceland in the summertime for the Midnight Run (aka Midnaethurhlaup).
Hi – thanks Justin, but uhm….you didn’t include the addie for the site…grinzzzz. I think I saw that one when I was ‘googling’ for a run.
Well, I don’t think I’ll be going to Iceland any time soon, but will definitely keep it in mind! As much as I’m really looking forward to my trip to Seoul, I’m not a ‘great flyer’ and flying over an ocean, in basically a tin can with a wee bit o’ claustrophobia, for over 10 hours doesn’t exactly thrill me (but I gotta get there somehow!).
I did do, however an xTerra run in Maui last year October and, although gruelling running uphill, in the pineapple fields in record 90 deg. heat, then down a desert-like, steep gully, along the beach and up an intense quick incline to the finish line (I mean seriously…really?!!), it was amazing!
Thanks again; cheers!
Hmm, something weird happened there. Tell you what – I’ll send it via email. Stand by!
been looking for a 10km to run in Korea the past few days, just upped my training for it and ran 12km on Saturday through Pyeongtaek!
Anyways, could you send me the link for the website with details of the 10k run in October??
GOOD EFFORT ON THE 10k!