Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Seoul International Marathon

I would have wanted to just sleep some more on a Sunday morning. But I realized thousands of runners have already gotten out of their beds while it was still dark and headed to Gwanghwamun Square where the starting line of the annual Seoul International Marathon was.
                                            (The Blue Bus that I rode)
                                (A cordoned road)
I thought it would be fun taking photographs of the runners while they were en route to fulfill their dreams of breaking the world record. If not, perhaps their personal best.
                (A few pedestrians making their way
                    to Gwanghwamun Square)

           (A bridal car wasn't allowed to pass. 
                 I hope the bride's not in there.)

So, I lazily got out of my bed and rushed to the Namdaemun Market area, where the marathoners would detour en route to the City Hall/Euljiro area. I should be there before 8AM, the time the race would start under the stern, strict gaze of Admiral Yi.
         (A helicopter was buzzing above taking                          an aerial footage of the race)
I have never run a marathon; I'd rather play tennis! But just to see world-class marathoners breeze past me on a cool Sunday morning would be neat! I thought perhaps the next time I see these ferocious marathoners would be at the 2016 Rio Olympics! On my TV screen! So, it would be really fun to see them a few meters away with all their stamina, focus and the look on their determined faces!
Although international marathoners flew in to join the marathon, thousands more registered to join the 5K and 10K events, which made the whole thingy more fun!

And as I rode the Blue Bus 402 that morning from my Hannam-dong neighborhood, I saw a notice posted inside the bus that its regular route was momentarily cut off by the marathon. But no problem for me, I was getting off at Namdaemun Market anyway. That's where I wanted to be. That's where I would bump into the marathoners, and that's where they would run into me, literally. Ha-ha-ha!

As expected, when I got there, the police had already cordoned off the intersection. A few cars were trying to make it through, and a few pedestrians were trying to catch the marathon as well.
                  (Sponsors' cars leading the marathon)
So, I sat on the pavement and just waited...and waited... and waited until....a motorcade of police motorbikes, mobile units of TV channels and ambulances signaled that I should get ready!

Then lo and behold! The first pack of runners appeared, pacing themselves faster than parishioners going to church on a lazy Sunday morning. They strode along and turned left towards the Bank of Korea. I was expecting the theme from Chariots of Fire movie playing in my head as they ran past me. But these elite runners were not running in slow motion, barefooted and on a beach. They were speedy, on running shoes and in Namdaemun Market!

I stood there for a moment and watched the first batch of elite athletes, and tried to share in the fun of the sport they love. Those fit torsos and strong legs were proof that they could really take on 42 kilometers of non-stop pacing. 

And after the premiere pack, there came the fun runners in their costumes and jolly faces! Some of them looked serious, while others looked that they were happy just to run!

                "Run, Forrest, run!"
                      (A runner in a costume and a crown!)
After a few minutes at the Namdaemun Market area, I walked towards that fountain near the Shinsegae Department store, just across the Bank of Korea, and took more photographs from an elevated view. 

Unlike the runners, I lost track of time. And when the last runners ran by and being trailed by an ambulance and a few cars, I knew they had all passed.

 ("These legs are made for running. That's what just they do. One of these days these legs are gonna walk all over you!")
                     (Top running chef!)

So, I got back to the Blue Bus 402 bus stop at Namdaemun Market, which at that time, resumed its normal route already. Those runners had already run towards the other side of downtown where they now cut off a new set of bus routes.
               (A bank run @ the Bank of Korea building)

                             (It's a date!)

I was happy I got out of bed early to catch the Seoul International Marathon that morning. Although I didn't sweat like the runners did, I also had fun watching them enjoy what they decided to do that Sunday morning.

                             (Running and skipping rope!)

The day after, I read in the news that a Kenyan, won the men's marathon, and an Ethiopian lady won the women's. They were the fastest runners from Gwanghwamun Square all the way to the Jamsil Olympic Stadium in just little above two hours!

                 (Friends running in groups and 
                    wearing the same color!)

Tomorrow morning, a new batch of marathoners will run through the streets of Seoul again, and along the official route, they will enjoy the tourist spots on foot, although I doubt they will be able to take photos.

Well, if they won't be able to take photos, I will. 

Good luck to the marathoners! Happy running!
               (The cars and ambulance trailing 
                        the last of the runners!)

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