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A Torturous Race under the Boiling Sun

Posted July. 30, 2003 22:13,   


It`s okay. Things will work out if I strengthen the basics.

Lee, Bong Ju (33, Samsung Electronics) returned to Korea on the 29th, after spending a month in New Zealand for the training camp. His face was sunburned and thin, but he seemed to feel as carefree as his slow speech.

A month to go for the marathon race at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, that will commence on August 30. Lee is determined to win the laurel at the World Championships in Athletics for the first time as a Korean.

This competition is expected to be a torturous race. To start with, as the race begins at 2:20 PM, athletes have to run in the midday`s sun of 25 to 28 degrees Celsius and in the humidity of 40%. Generally, 9 degree Celsius is regarded as the optimal temperature for marathon. For every degree`s rise of the temperature, record is delayed from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Athletes will have to focus more on ranking rather than on establishing new records.

The course itself is not easy. After running a 14.5 km`s distance, athletes will reach the 2 km block, from Champ-Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe, which is an upward slope that is 25m above sea level. Moreover, athletes will have to run on stone roads. This race will not be like the London Marathon, where the roads had been covered with carpets. This means greater shock to the knees and ankles, which will easily fatigue the athletes. Another obstacle is that as the course runs through the center of the city, there are many curves. Athletes will easily lose their pace, for they will have to speed up and down continuously.

After exploring the course, Japanese male marathon team analyzed that as bumpy surfaces and numerous curves will tire the athletes` legs soon, physical strength will be the key to winning.

But, Lee does not seem to care. We will all be running under the same condition, so the results will depend on how good your body conditions are.

Experts expect the winning record to come between 2 hours 12 minutes and 16 minutes. Its is 5 to 9 minutes later than Lee`s personal best record of 2 hours 7 minutes and 20 seconds.

After spending the month of June in Hyeong Gye of Kangwon Province, mastering a high level training, Lee ran 40 km a day, over 300 km a week in Hamilton, New Zealand, in July. He will fly to Italy on August 3 for the final training and arrive at Paris on the 20th.

Samsung Electronics team coach Oh, In Hwan said that despite the difficulties at the beginning of the course, Bong Ju`s abundant experience will help him overcome them. Our strategy is to gamble for victory at the 25 or 35 km point.

Meanwhile, Ji, Young Jun (22, Kolon) also returned on the 30th, after his training camp at Hokkaido, Japan, in preparation for the World Championships in Athletics.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com