Seoul International Marathon race report

IMG_2365 (1)Back in March, the family traveled to Seoul, Korea for a three day weekend, and a marathon. Seoul was on our ‘list’ so didn’t have to lobby very much to convince the family to sign up.

I picked this marathon because the race course is mostly flat, with 1000ft of total climb and thought I could give it an attempt to ‘run’ a marathon. Doubted I could BQ but wanted to give it a shot.

One major challenge, because this race is huge- 30k runners, I wouldn’t be “running” unless I could land in a starting wave up near the front.

How could I score a (treasured) wave near the front?

  1. Months before the race…First, I ‘asked’ the race directors, if they would grant me a position, in an early starting wave. No luck. They said I must send in a ‘race certificate’, from my last fast marathon. Never heard of a ‘race certificate’ before…
  2. I sent in the URL to the results page of my last ‘fast’ marathon. The Tunnel, September 2016. No luck. They asked for an official ‘race certificate’.
  3. The tunnel race does not send out official race certificates. So, I created one in powerpoint and sent that in. No reply.
  4. Month later, sent in my (fake) race certificate again. No reply

What options did I now have? Cancel the trip or go and hope they gave me an early starting wave? Worst case, they put me in the back of 30k runners and I just ‘jog’ the course. We flew to Seoul.

Day before the race, I picked up my race bib and guess what?? There are 5 waves, which one do I land in??

5th wave.


The race day weather was nice and cool, not frigid. Sun would come out and warm things up. We took the metro to the start area and after a bit of confusion, getting to the back of HUGE crowd, I had about 15minutes to get ready. Not ideal.

Spent about 13 of 15 minutes in a port-a-potty line. (when you gotta go, you go) Then quick stretch and jumped into the line about 50 yards from the end of the masses and masses of Asian runners.

IMG_2374 (1)

Will helps me stretch before the start

First mile very slow. Knew I’d waste A LOT of energy but couldn’t help it- I started weaving through the crowd to find daylight and space to ‘run’.

Mile splits:

  1. 8:30
  2. 7:49
  3. 8:23
  4. 8:13
  5. 7:48
  6. 8:42

Not only is weaving through the crowd a way to waste energy but its an easy way to fall. Cutting in front of a runner, they might accidentally trip me. Or, more risky, I was jumping on and off side walks to pass people. Again, not ideal.

Miles 7-9 made good time but I think I was running fast because I really had to PEE and no porta potty in sight. Come on, not a porta potty for MILES.

Mile splits:

  • 7- 7:53
  • 8- 7:53
  • 9- 7:52
  • 10- 8:06
  • 11- 8:18
  • 12- 7:53

Second half of race, temps starting to warm up. Likely, not drinking enough liquids. And still weaving through the crowds although by mile 12, crowd was thinning. Starting to pay for all that energy I’ve wasted.

  • 13- 8;21
  • 14- 8:41
  • 15- 8:08
  • 16- 8:33
  • 17-8:09
  • 18-8:13

I don’t recall much about this section but started to really feel it. Starting to struggle to keep pace. And little shade from sun.

  • 19-8:29
  • 20-8:41
  • 21-8:40
  • 22-8:48
  • 23-8:56

Last push. Slowing down and by mile 26, the wheels were starting to fall off.

  • 24- 9:06
  • 25-9:21
  • 26-9:55

Done! 3:44:23

Considering the crowds, I should be pleased with this time. But, I’m not. Bet I lost at least 5, maybe 10 minutes weaving through the crowd. Oh well.

Few last notes on this race:

The positives:

  • We liked Seoul. Great food, laid back, clean and tiny (compared to Beijing) city
  • Mostly flat course
  • aid stations well supplied
  • Good weather

Thing to improve:

  • Where are the porta-potties? Even ran down metro tunnel looking for one. Didn’t find one, for miles.
  • placed in last wave so wasted energy weaving through crowd for miles.
  • finished in stadium and took over an HOUR, I swear, to get out of the stadium, find my drop bag (in stadium parking lot) and get out onto street.

Overall, I’d recommend this marathon as a way to see the city. If you aren’t in a hurry.

About Scott

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and simplify our life, as a stay at home dad.
This entry was posted in marathon training, Race, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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