A marathon. In Jeju. Ten kilometers. Yes, ten kilometers but the course was set along the beach on the northeast side of the island. You get a t-shirt, cool medal, and when else would I participate in an international marathon on an island with runners from all over the globe?
The manilla envelope came and the cobalt blue shirt tumbled out first along with my race bib and lace tracker. Okay, Number 7007! I breathed in with a sense of excitement.
Up at four-thirty a.m. for the nearly two hour drive to the sports complex to begin the race. What an adventure parking was! People everywhere. We had to park blocks away and take a hike just to begin the race. Once inside the sports complex, the spectacle began.
Stalls with sponsors giving away fliers, some selling merchandise with all sorts of racing gear, and advertisers for other marathons in Tokyo, Tokushima, Osaka, Vietnam, and even Hong Kong. Loud music boomed, while balloons bounced in the sticky air, as I walked around the carnival-like atmosphere and waited for the race to begin.
The loudspeaker crackled with static as the announcer told participants to line up for the full marathon.Finally, race time!!! I wasn’t expecting to hear the countdown begin in both English and Korean or see fluorescent colors bursting into the air at the start of the race when the loud boom of the race pistol exploded as the crowd lurched forward.
I watched in amazement as the runners took off for the full marathon, many children included. Finally, I was in the group ready to start as my countdown began. The flash of colored chalk rained down over us while we began our race walk around the course. The course was mainly flat and easy going with tons of water and thirst quenching breaks about every two kilometers due to the heat and high humidity.
Walking so close to the beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear, turquoise waters made the Jeju marathon a memorable event which lived up to its reputation of drawing runners from all over the world!