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Ten Days to Go to the Dong-A Ilbo Gyeongju Open Marathon

Ten Days to Go to the Dong-A Ilbo Gyeongju Open Marathon

Posted October. 20, 2004 23:06,   


“Join the ultimate race on the ultimate course.”

The Dong-A Ilbo Gyeongju Open Marathon (co-sponsored by Dong-A Ilbo and the city of Gyeongju), the greatest festival for master’s marathon runners in Korea, will take place in just 10 days. For the first time in the history of the competition, this year’s marathon follows a level course ranging only 50-some meters in elevation, and participants can expect to be relatively more comfortable as they cover the grueling distance.

The Greatest Marathon Festival in Southern Korea—

Since the Dong-A Ilbo Marathon (now the Seoul International Marathon) opened its ranks to masters for the first time in 1994, Gyeongju has cemented its place as the Mecca of master’s marathon in Korea. This year is the competition’s 11th year, with a record-breaking 11,396 amateur marathoners set to participate.

The race is divided into the full-course, the half-course, and the 10km competition. Among the 10,067 men (88.34 percent) and 1,329 women (11.66 percent) currently registered to run, the majority (5,047 entrants) are taking on the full-course race, while the half-course and 10km divisions will feature 3,698 and 2,651 contestants respectively. There are 250 group entries of 10 runners or more, and 655 marathoners have registered under the auspices of the WIA Corporation.

In terms of regional distribution, the most number of entrants hail from Ulsan (2,710). Those from the Yeongnam area (southeastern Korea), including Gyeongsangbuk-do (2,405) and Busan (2,295), account for the majority of the participants. They are joined by others from all over the country, from Seoul (141), Gyeonggi-do (107), Daejeon (85), etc., who will be convening in Gyeongju to take part in this autumn festival.

For runners in the full-course division, the top 2,000 to finish within four hours and 30 minutes will be granted participation priority to the 2005 Seoul International Marathon.

A Newly Renovated Course—

Until last year, the Gyeongju course was a heart-stopper with a terrain level fluctuation totaling almost 200 meters. The stretch from the starting line to the 3km point was an uphill climb of some 100 meters. During the last 30 kilometers of the race, in particular, there was a 10km incline from the south end of the Gyeongju Bridge to the Concord Hotel, beside Lake Bomun—an energy-draining challenge for the amateur marathoners as they struggled toward the finish line.

But starting this year, the course has a whole new look. The most important change is the exclusion of most of the hills to reduce the difference in elevation to around 50 meters. The newly leveled course starts from the Hwangseong Park Citizen’s Field in downtown Gyeongju instead of the World Culture Expo Plaza on the outskirts of the city. The stretch that circles around Lake Bomun has also been eliminated, and the downtown portion of the course greatly expanded. Now participants will make a U-turn at the Bomun Bridge at the entrance to Lake Bomun, run through Bunhwang-sa, Cheomgseongdae, and Cheonmachong, then return to Hwangseong Park to finish.

Deputy Chairman Yoo Mun-jong of the Korea Athletics Federation’s Facilities Management Committee said, “The new course has almost no hilly portions, allowing everyone from beginners to veterans to enjoy running in the race.”

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com