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Running 622km from the South Coast to the East Sea

Posted July. 13, 2007 07:46,   


A cross-country “ultra” marathon starting on July 14 will run from Ttangkkeut Village (Land’s Edge) in Haenam, Jeonnam Province and pass through Gwangju, moving on to Jeonju and Daejeon, Cheongju and Chungju in Chungbuk Province, Wonju and Inje in Gangwon Province to the Unification Observatory in Goseong, over a total of eight days. 147 ‘iron people’ are participating in this marathon, including eight women.

The 622km Ultra Marathon has a daily distance of 100km for the first 6 days and 22km on the final day. The participants are free to walk or run within the time limit of 24 hours. They are disqualified if they receive even the least amount of help from someone. Apart from water provided by the organization committee, they must do everything for themselves. During the day, they must fight against the scorching sun, and at night, fight off solitude in the dark. Even more, they must avoid cars on their own.

What is the reason for taking part in this kind of ‘hell race’? The oldest participant in the marathon, Lee Jae-seung, 63, a professor of the pediatric department at Yonsei University College of Medicine, said, “I run because it’s fun. Only those who have run it know what I’m talking about.” He feels satisfaction when enduring pain to keep running and enjoys the feeling of his body getting younger every time he runs. Professor Lee, who starting running in marathons six years ago, has become so infatuated with the sport that in the last three years he has participated in national competitions such as the 100km, 100mile, 308km cross-country marathons.

The youngest participant, Kim Jin-han (31, Gyeonggi), said, “I find my reason to live amid the extreme suffering.” Kim, who was separated from his parents when he was seven, carried out a struggling life, and it was running in marathons that rescued him from insomnia, alcohol and smoking. Enduring and overcoming the mental and physical pains while running 100km, 200km and 300km marathons presents him with new resolutions on how to face life.

A housewife, Kim Seon-ja (46, Daegu), said, “I take part in order to keep the promise that I made with myself.” She added that promises made in our social lives are also important, but the happiness that is felt after keeping a promise with oneself is even greater. After setting a goal, such as running full course, 100km or 200km marathon, Kim works hard to keep the promise she made with herself, and the satisfaction she feels after she fulfills her goals is what leads her to the ultra-marathon.