Sunday, October 11, 2009

All of the people start to rush, start to rush by

Yesterday I ran my first race in South Korea. It's been a hassle trying to find races and register when I don't know the language! Luckily, a Pusanweb post helped me to find a Korean woman whose husband is an avid runner. She informed me of the Busan Ocean Half Marathon Race, and Laura, Erin and I signed up for the 10km distance.

We have all been battling colds for about 3 weeks, and our training has suffered. We arrived at the race yesterday sniffling, coughing and feeling unprepared and NERVOUS!
Some ridiculous sights soon helped us to relax a little bit:

- there was a group led stretch ... hundreds of people were participating, it was to set counts and there were girls in miniskirts and crop tops leading it on stage
- there were people whose job was to mist passersby with sanitizing spray ... need to be careful of H1N1!
- the first aid team were all on rollerblades .. and some were looking not too steady on their feet
- a lot of runners were wearing jeans

We found a grassy area to stretch, and relaxed until race time. When we noticed the crowd moving out we headed for the starting line with George, our trusty photographer in tow. After lining up and posing for pictures we were approached by a man.
"Um, are you 5km?"
"No, 10km"
"Oh no, this is the half marathon course. You need to go that way"

Panic immediately set in ... we had less then 10 minutes and we lined up at the wrong line with no real idea of where to go. We had to push through the entire field of half marathon runners, run over their start line and a few hundred metres down their course ... mildly embarrassing. Volunteers continued to point us in the right direction, and after a minute or 2 we saw a huge group of runners lined up. Unfortunately it was the 5km start line. There was no way to go around so we had to push through thousands of people to find our start line. Luckily I have learned how to say "Excuse me" in Korean, so after a few hundred "실래합니다's" we managed to pass the 5km start line. Finally ... the 10km participants were in sight! It was at this point that the race started. We were trapped behind thousands of people, so even though we tried to work our way to the front we were unable to cross the line for 7 minutes. I mean, at least we found it!

The race itself was a lot of fun. Running on the bridge was amazing, such great views! The incline was barely noticeable, which was a relief. We made sure to pose for the photographer that was perched on top of the bridge ... can't wait to see those shots. It sure is tiring to run while holding the double peace sign or the heart-above-the-head pose. I expected the crowds to thin out as the race progressed, but that never happened. I feel like I spent the entire time dodging through the huge amounts of people.

Some interesting things that I saw along the route:
- hoards of people stopping in the middle of the bridge for photo shoots
- runners in jeans
- people lining up along the side of the course so that the first aid rollerbladers could douse their legs down with numbing spray
- volunteers whose sole job was to hold open garbage bags at the water stations ... and everyone used them ... well, everyone except us ... I just threw my cups in the general direction. There were barely any cups on the ground - bizarre!
- free post-race acupuncture
- Kyungsung university football players doing the race in full uniform, including helmets

Overall it was a fun event. My time was 53:57 ... which considering the circumstances I'm happy about. I plan on doing another race in November and improving that time!

Thanks to George and Cliff ... our cheering section and photographers :)

After a lunch at Quiznos (a turkey sub was the closest I got to Thanksgiving dinner this year), George and I spent the afternoon on the beach, staying until the sun went down. A perfect end to the day!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada! Wish I was home for some turkey.

1 comment:

  1. We have tons of leftovers if you want them!! :)
    It was really cold here and tonight it's going down to -4! Really feels like late fall and the leaves aren't even fully turned colour. It's at peak in cottage country though.
    Congrats on your run! You'll get even better I'm sure.