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Seoul’s World Marathon Showdown

Posted January. 20, 2007 04:59,   


In March, a world marathon war will be held in Seoul.

On March 18, Korea’s top marathoners will have a match with the iron-legged runners of Kenya at the 2007 Seoul International Marathon, also known as the 78th Dong-A marathon.

On that day, the constellation of Korea’s brightest marathon stars will participate in the competition, including Korea’s record (2 hours 7 minutes and 20 seconds) holder Lee Bong-ju (37, Samsung Electronics), next generation rising stars Ji Yeong-jun (26, Kolon) and Eom Hyo-seok (23, Konkuk University), the still incomplete, yet with huge potential Jo Geun-hyeong (27, Daewoo Motor Sales) and Korea’s female record (2 hours 26 minutes and 12 seconds) holder, Kwon Eun-ju (30, Jeju City).

From marathon powerhouse Kenya, the world’s top runners will come to the competition, including Paul Kiprop Kirui, who ranked 5th in the world last year after setting a record of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 44 seconds at the Rotterdam Marathon, Jackson Koech (28), with record of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds, and Jason Mbote (29), with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 13 seconds.

In the female competition, world-class marathoners will run, including 2002 Seoul International Marathon champion Weianan (27, China, 2 hours 25 minutes and 2 seconds) and Werknesh Tola (Ethiopia, 2 hours, 25 minutes and 42 seconds).

Lee Bong-ju, also affectionately called Bongdari, who set the Korean record at the Tokyo Marathon in February 2000, has decided to participate for the first time since 2004 in the Seoul International Marathon, where many records have been set, with a goal to record a 2 hours and 7 minutes time once again. Lee Bong-ju is determined to compete with Kenya’s runners on Seoul marathon’s relatively flat course and even to renew Korea’s current record.

Ji Yeong-joon has declared for the race once again after a big failure at the Doha Asian Games. After failing to accomplish the goal of 5 consecutive wins of a Korean runner in the Asian Games with his disappointing record of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 35 seconds, remaining in 7th place in Doha, he has kept low key while staying at home and thinking about his failure. At some point, he doubted his career and asked himself, “Is the marathon is really what I should continue to pursue?” but soon answered himself, “What I want to do is run the marathon.” And he returned to full training in Gumi, Gyeongsang Province. His primary goal is to run within his personal record (2 hours 8 minutes and 43 seconds) set at the 2003 Seoul International Marathon.

Eom Hyo-seok, who graduated from Konkuk University this year and got a contract with Samsung Electronics, is more than ready to make it big in his first full-course competition as a professional marathoner.

For Jo Geun-hyeong, who left Kolon for Daewoo Motor Sales, a new entrant to the marathon sector, this competition is a stage for takeoff. He received a favorable evaluation as a budding star for Korea’s marathon after he ran a record 2 hours 15 minutes and 1 second at the 2005 Seoul International Marathon, but after that, he hasn’t made any records. Under director Baek Seung-do, now Jo is receiving intensive high-altitude training in Albuquerque, New Mexico from January 11.

Kwon Eun-ju, who quietly disappeared from the marathon stage after setting Korea’s 1997 female record, is now aiming to return to the course at age 30. After running the 2002 Seoul International Marathon with record of 2 hours, 36 minutes and 20 seconds, she hasn’t run the full course. But she won last year’s Incheon half-course marathon in 1 hour, 16 minutes and 37 seconds, showing the possibility of a revival.