Ten Reasons to Love Running in Korea

Shira McDonald, ex-Seoul Flyers secretary.

Ms. Shira McDonald was once the Seoul Flyers secretary. She also once gave us ten reasons to love running in Korea. Those reasons have stood the test of time, and like most running publications, churning out old material is par for the course. So here from the 1st Edition of Fleet Street back in August 2010, when it was in magazine format, are those reasons.

10. Podium chasing (especially for women).

Korea has a packed race calendar and there are many weekends with multiple events. Pick a smaller event, train for it like mad and there’s a good chance you’ll make yourself proud. As for the ladies, this is your chance to win—do it!

9. Hold onto your ambition.

Whatever reason brings you to (or keeps you) in Korea, running is a great way to keep your wits sharp. Not all of the jobs here allow opportunities for advancement, so keep up your competitive instincts so you’re ready for life after Korea. As a side note: liver training is not a goal in and of itself!

8. Break stereotypes and be a good ambassador.

Nobody expects a fit American. Nobody. Go for a run, smile, and enjoy the scenery—you’re making a good impression just by being out there.

7. Racing in Korea.

Cheerleaders, amazing race schwag, consistently low entry fees and all kinds of food and drink—they can all be yours by racing in Korea. If you’ve been intimidated by racing in your home country, try Korea’s vibrant and inclusive racing scene. You won’t go home empty-handed or disappointed!

6. Namsan.

This country is full of glorious hills, but if you’re in Seoul, the prettiest and most accessible place to escape the madness of daily life is Namsan. In the heat of summer, it’s your private rainforest and in the winter it’s a starkly beautiful fortress waiting to crush you. Whatever the season, it will make you a stronger runner!

5.  Safety.

Need to run 30k on a Friday night? No problem. Other than maddening mopeds and careless cabbies, Korea is a blissfully safe place to run. Best of all, if someone sees you running they’re more likely to give you  thumbs up and a cheerful “Fighting!” than heckle you.

4.  Embrace your inner ‘gear geek’.

Yes, this is your chance to try Kinesio tape. And black ginseng energy gel. And rhinestone encrusted running t-shirts. This is your chance to wear anything other than a grey t-shirt and black shorts, so take advantage of it. Feeling sluggish on a run? Look around you–the gear of others will either inspire laughter or envy, but one thing for is certain–you’ll never be bored!

3.  Han River

Day or night, and during every season the Han gives you something new to look at. Not only incredibly accessible and convenient to use, it gives a feeling of open space that is sorely missing in most parts of Seoul. If you think the Han is boring, use it as a jumping off point to explore the city…just carry 10,000 won for cab fare and you’re safe!

2.  Speak a universal language.

Gutting out a 30km run on the river? Struggling to finish a 5k? You’re not alone. Runners in Korea are extremely supportive, so slurp your watermelon soup, toast with Makgeolli at the end of a run and make new friends. Sweat and smiles speak louder than words!

1.  The Seoul Flyers!

Yes, I’m biased. Running miles are like dog years–you’ll make closer friends faster running than you will doing anything else in the same amount of time. A variety of perspectives on running and life makes your club experience richer than you’re likely to find anywhere else. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that running in a group almost always makes you faster, too!

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One Response to Ten Reasons to Love Running in Korea

  1. Brad says:

    Shira’s top ten list is perfect and something everyone should know! 🙂

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