Sunday, January 17, 2010

당신만 산불을 방지 할 수 있습니다

I don't usually start races holding a cup of coffee, but today's race was anything but normal. After falling in love with the mountains and always wondering what it would be like to run up the steep hills and then coast down, I decided to sign up for a 14 km mountain race. I paid $15 and received no other information other than to show up today at exit 6 of Suseo station in southeastern Seoul.

After 90 minutes on line 3 (nickname: The Fighting Third), I made my way to exit 6, where there was nobody. But, some kind person had scrawled "marathon" on a piece of paper and put a rock over it. A few more of these led me to a clearing at the base of a mountain where about 40 people, a number of them shirtless men in what looked like spandex swimsuits, were posing for a picture. Someone asked for my name and then nodded knowingly, "ah, Ay-dell, yes, yes". As I took off my sweats, the race started without warning. Someone offered me a tiny cup of coffee, and I took it.

I was actually mortally afraid of this race because hiking on the snow and ice is bad enough, but running is worse. This race had all the drama of a musket battle since you often needed the consent of all your competitors to run. We spent a lot of time bunched together walking up very steep sections. After reaching the first of three or four peaks, I put a lot of distance between everyone around me.

But, it was all undone when I reached a steep, 60-degree descent that lasted about a kilometre. Granted, my running shoes made me woefully underprepared, but nothing explains how about a dozen people loped down as though they were immune to broken bones. Many old people offered me their hands and I staved off Homer's purple death at one point only by using a tree to do a pirouette.

I never saw any of those people again. Most of the rest of the race alternated between flatlands where I flew, honest hills where I enjoyed making my way up and treacherous descents where I held up entire crowds of people that offered advice and English language conversation. The remark of the day goes to one member of a group of 20 that was watching me move like his grandmother: "this is very hard for you". Other groups loudly yelled out that a foreigner was running, and they yelled encouragement.

Near the end, the ground flattened and the downhills weren't so treacherous. Still, I wasn't chancing anything, so I chose to leap off once I got to within 6-7 feet of flat ground. I made excellent time and even caught a few people. When I finished, I saw all the people that had passed me finish a few minutes later. I have no idea where they (or I) came from. According to my cell phone, the whole thing took about 1 hour and 50 minutes. According to the finisher certificate I got at the start, the race was actually 15 km, which disappointed me because I wanted to cross one more odd distance off of my list.


sofia said...

what. the. fuck.

Shan said...

Boo! Move it or lose it! Get off the trail! Out of the way, slowpoke! You're ruining it for everyone!

"Wait everyone! He's a foreigner."

Go! Good for you! Take your time! One step forward! Take my hand. You're doing so well. What a nice boy.

Alex said...

That is so freakin' adorible.

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