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Adventure Racing

Posted July. 12, 2005 03:15,   


Visually handicapped Song Gyeong-tae (44) will participate in the Marathon des Sables (Sand Marathon) that starts in September. The marathon is a mortifying race in which a marathoner runs across a 250- kilometer desert for six nights and seven days while wearing a backpack carrying food and equipment. Song said, “Since I got my guide dog in 1998, I ran a full marathon several times but I still felt something was missing,” and added that he will challenge the race in order to show that even a handicapped person can participate in extreme sports if he or she takes on the challenge.

Over the last few years, ordinary people’s interest in the marathon has increased dramatically. A huge number of marathon communities have formed, and one statistic found that the marathon population stands at approximately 2.5 million people.

However, people who aren’t satisfied with running 42.195 kilometers are moving into the world of adventure racing.

What is Adventure Racing?-

Adventure racing is largely divided into two types. A “Foot Race” is a running race held at a place with severe conditions, such as the Sahara Desert, Gobi Desert, Atacama Desert, and Amazon Jungle marathon races. On the other hand, a “Combined Adventure Race” (Multi Race) is a race combined with triathlon, inline skating, and underwater sports on top of a marathon.

Depending on the competition, a foot race, which is held in outback location, is again separated into two kinds. In the first kind of a race, a participant gets all the support for food and equipment from an organizing committee; in the second, a participant has to backpack food and equipment during the race. The latter is a survival self-sufficiency race. In the case of a survival race, a runner is usually provided with nine to 10 liters of water daily.

Running the full four races, including the Sahara Desert in Egypt, the Gobi Desert in China, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the Antarctic Race, is called a “Grand Slam” of adventure racing, which has yet to be achieved by anyone.

Adventure racing first started among American and European marathon club members 20 years ago. Though Korea has a short history of engaging in adventure racing since joining it in 2000, adventure racing is getting more attention. Currently, around 20 Korean marathoners are participating in adventure races being held across the world.

Ordinary People Can Participate after Six Months of Preparation-

Yoo Ji-seong (35), who ran a full sand marathon four times starting in 2002, noted that adventure racing is not restricted to special people and added that even an ordinary person who doesn’t usually exercise can participate in the race after building up basic physical strength and practicing walking quickly and running over a period of six months.

Yoo is currently running an Internet site devoted to adventure racing (www.runxrun.com) and remarked, “Running in the desert makes me feel happy just like traveling, because I’m allowed to observe hidden beauty of desert one on one while running.”

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com