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Former Bobsleigh national athlete sets to become professional runner

Former Bobsleigh national athlete sets to become professional runner

Posted August. 26, 2022 07:59,   

Updated August. 26, 2022 07:59


Former Bobsleigh national athlete Kang Han is running as a pacer at the 7979 Seoul Urban Running Crew (SURC), a runners’ group established by the Seoul City government to celebrate the opening of the Gwanghwamun Square. Kang became a Bobsleigh athlete from a former running athlete, but as his dream of winning the Beijing Winter Olympics has come to naught because of his leg injury, which led to nine surgeries, Kang is now seeking to return to track-and-field.

The 7979 SURC is an urban running program where people gather every Thursday and run together from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Starting from Gwanghwamun Square, the SURC has several urban trails, including one from Cheong Wa Dae to Insa-ong (5.5 km), another from Deoksugung to Cheongyecheon (5.2 km), and the other from Changyeonggung to Daehangno (6.6km). The program was created to foster a culture of urban running. Running with the people, Kang is trying to spread the running culture and at the same time uses this time to improve his physical strength.

Kang used to be a middle- to long-distance runner in the middle school years. Growing in height to 190 centimeters, he transitioned to 400-meter hurdles when he was a high school student in Busan. Entering College of Sports, Kang again transitioned to Bobsleigh in 2019, dreaming of becoming an Olympic athlete, and passed through trials for the national team. He went on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation World Cup tour in 2019-2020 season. Ranked 10th in the World Cup, Kang injured his leg after the first season. “I was honored to wear the Taegeuk mark as a Bobsleigh athlete. At the same time, I felt regretful for not having pursued my career as a track and field athlete. Now I will do my best not to leave any regret,” said Kang.

While getting prepared for returning to track and field, Kang started to run as a pacer upon suggestion by running coach Jang Ho-joon, who oversees the 7979 SURC program. “I am getting in shape to run a 400-meter hurdle race again. Running with the people was also a rewarding experience for me,” said Kang. “I felt that when somebody runs with me, it gave me strength to continue. We are living in a stressful world, and I hope many people find relief in running.” Kang plans to get in shape during the winter, register as an athlete at the Korean Association of Athlete, and return to track and field next year. Kang garnered public attention when he appeared on various television programs, where he revealed his childhood memory of having grown up at an orphanage.

Starting on Sept. 10 until Oct. 20, 7979 SURC will last 11 weeks. Anyone wishes to join the program can file an application on every Monday at dongma.club. For safety reasons, the applications will be accepted in order of submission, 30 people each. Those who are in the first 30 will get to run with Kang.

Bo-Mi Im bom@donga.com