"Marathons Have Changed My Life"-
Miss Kim Young-ah, who works in the Korean Exchange Bank`s public relations division, is considered a "celebrity" among amateur marathoners. With an attractive appearance, sociable personality and remarkable fashion taste, supported by marathon capabilities, any article concerning her posted on Marathon Online`s bulletin board attracts thousands of readers.
She fell head over heels for marathons after winning her first half-marathon in June 2003 in a time of an hour and 45 minutes, which she entered with a light heart just to give it a try. She has run over 20 other half-marathons since, finishing above third place in most of them. She completed her first full marathon at the Donga-Baekjae Road Marathon held in September 2003, which she finished with a satisfactory record of three hours and 55 minutes. A year later, in October 2004, she ran a personal best of three hours and 13 seconds at the Chosun Daily Choonchun Marathon.
"I found out why people are so wild about marathons. I learned that though the suffering that is forced upon may be painful, the suffering I choose to take on can be enjoyable."
Kim is training four to five hours daily to shorten her record to within "sub-three (a full-course marathon time of under three hours)" at the Seoul International Marathon scheduled for March 13.
Another reason she is so focused on running is to bring joy to her mother who is sick. Her mother, who lost her husband early and endured difficult times raising four girls, now has trouble moving on her own due to a collapsed spinal cord. Kim, the youngest, now takes care of her mother and has paid for her medical expenses with half of her salary ever since 1998 when the last of her older sisters got married. Kim has been putting off her own marriage to take care of her mother.
Kim says, "There is so much I have gained from running marathons," and added, "I intend to give all of the earnings from the races to help other marathon runners in difficult situations."
The Korea Exchange Bank supported Kim, who has become a celebrity since last November, by placing her in the public relations division at the banks headquarters from her original post at the Nahmgajwa branch to help her focus on training. Nike Korea also volunteered to provide the necessary gear for Kim.