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Koreans Cheer Marathoner Without Arms

Posted March. 13, 2006 08:06,   


Despite lacking both arms, Kim Huang-tae (29, Incheon Runners Club) ran in and finished the 2006 Dong-A Seoul International Marathon on March 12.

Kim finished the race, his 10th full course marathon, in 3:05:05. Although he did not reach his personal goal of a “sub-three” (finishing in under three hours), he ran with all his might and shortened his previous record by 13 minutes. He said he owed a debt of thanks to onlookers who cheered him on.

Kim lost both his arms when 22,000 volts of electricity passed through his body while he was laying a power line in August 2002. The doctor comforted him at the time by saying that he was lucky to have survived the shock.

Marathon running was what got him up out of bed after the accident. Kim wanted to lose the weight he put on during his hospital stay, but did not know what exercises he could do with no arms. One of his colleagues suggested running; and he has been doing just that since February 2003.

“I had run about halfway in the 2000 Seoul International Marathon, which was before my accident. I remember thinking back then that the marathon wasn’t for someone like me,” said Kim, chuckling.

Now, marathon running has become the center of his life.

It was a struggle for him to find balance without arms; but despite tottering at the beginning, he kept on running. After eight months of practice, he was finally able to run a full marathon.

Kim runs in about 10 marathons every year. As a result, he has lost much of his excess weight and his health has improved.

Kim Jin-hee (29) welcomed her husband at the finish line with a big smile and a hug. The couple first met when they were both in high school. Jin-hee’s family objected to her marriage to a man with a disability, but two moved in together anyway in December 2002. Jin-hee says that it is frustrating to see her husband not being able to grab water passed to runners from the roadside. “But it is invigorating to see my husband find joy in marathon running,” said Jin-hee.