Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Korea - The first border run

Hello everyone!

I spent a rainy Saturday in Seoul. Tom and I went to the N-Seoul Tower - a needle on a hill that gives you a view of Seoul. Not the most pleasant view, actually, though that may be more to do with the weather than the masses of similarly-styled apartment blocks littering every inch of space. The overcast conditions made the river look very muddy. Decent, but I've been spoiled by going to some of the best city view sights in the world.

To get up to the Tower most people take a cable car. My fantastic orientation skills meant we couldn't find this, and accidentally ended up hiking one-third of the hill. Not what I wanted to be doing, as I needed to exert as little energy as possible. More on that later.

I then headed to Itaewon to find a place to sleep. The rain was becoming relentless, though not even close to typhoon levels. I had an early start, and a tight budget, so I did my usual trick of hunting for a cheap love motel. Itaewon has many of these, and I accidentally ended up on the reason they have so many - Hooker Hill.

This is at 5pm. I walk up the hill to locate a motel. Each bar's door is shut. Well, until I pass them. Then I get catcalls about having a 'good time' and how 'cheap' they are. It's 5pm - not exactly the first-class workers. Not that I ever consider doing that. Anyway, I found a motel. Which had a sign up, saying that they had just started cleaning. Cleaning which lasted until 9pm. NINE.

It took a while, but I found a decent place slightly off the main strip. I then proceeded to lie down and not exert any energy at all. I had to be on a bus at 5.30am for a 10k race. On the border with North Korea. One wrong turn and I'm a dead man. I considered wearing a George Dubya mask, but opted to do the ninja fancy dress as with the rest of the team I am in. Ninjas vs Pirates was our theme of choice, though some went a bit overboard. Looking good if we got popped by a sniper, at least.

Originally there were a group of us from Siheung running, but people dropped out one by one, and Jon contrived to miss the bus, so I ran with the rest of the running team. The course was pretty flat, and the weather just about perfect. The rain had relented, a slight breeze moving across us under an overcast sky. The sun did pop out in the final kilometre, but Rocky had kicked in on my iPod by this stage. Lots of Korean teenage girls screaming when I waved to them as I passed was also inspirational to an extent. I finished third in our big team for the 10k in a time of 43:38, shattering my personal best. Will probably never catch Ryan, though.

I had abstained from alcohol for two weeks prior to this race, so needless to say I enjoyed myself afterwards. I am a sucker for makkoli after a race. I passed out on the bus home. Long day, but very happy with what I achieved. Jon wants to do one more race before I leave, so we are looking at our options, but I don't want to run for a while after that!

Love you all


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