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Winter Cross Country on Jeju Island

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


Located on Mount Halla on Jeju Island, Halla Arboretum turns into a “marathon heaven” in winter.

In search of warm weather, marathoners from all over the country come to Jeju and run along the trails of its garden adorned with narcissuses, coralberries and camellia trees. Wintering in Jeju Island, marathoners prepare for seasonal races such as the 2007 Seoul International Marathon scheduled on March 18, which is also the 78th Dong-A Marathon.

On January 21, the arboretum was converted into a site for a cross-country festival. The 2007 National Cross-Country Tournament was held on the circular 8.7km course of the Halla Arboretum under the auspices of Korea Business Athletic Federation. It has been three years since the federation first started to host this annual tournament in 2005. It has been designed to train and check the condition of amateur marathoners having winter training in Jeju.

In cross-country, racers have to run uphill and downhill paths of the mountain as well as the fields, and these are indispensable programs for marathoners training in winter. It reinforces not only one’s legs, but also the muscles and ligaments of the waist and stomach. As it strengthens the body parts that marathoners rarely build up in their usual drills, it also helps them prevent injuries. Taking this into consideration, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) holds 10 cross-country tournaments during the winter period every year between November and March and encourages marathoners to take part.

“The cross-country tournament is more training than competition between athletes,” said Choi Kyung-ryul, managing director of KBAF and chairman of the technical committee in the Korea Athletic Federation. In a similar sense, Jeong Ha-jun, coach of Kolon, commented, “Cross-country is a very useful way to build up stamina for the marathon.”

The athletic federation has a long-term plan to hold as many as five cross-country tournaments in Jeju during the winter training session every year. On the 31st, the second cross-country tournament held by the federation will take place at the cross-country course of the Seogwipo Dong-A Marathon Center.

In the race held yesterday with 60 runners participating, Park Sang-mun (28, Gwacheon City Office) and Park Jeong-suk (27, Iksan City Office) won the men’s race with a record of 27:08 and the women’s race with 31:48, respectively. In the group race, in which the records of the best three runners of a group are added up, Seoul City Office won the men’s title and Iksan City Office won the women’s.