More than just the land of Kpop and Kimchi, South Korea is also home to some of the most scenic, historical and fastest marathon routes in the world. Imagine running along coastal roads and under cherry blossom trees in the springs and against a fiery backdrop of red and yellow in the autumn.
Marathon season in Korea starts in March, taking advantage of the cooler weather and carries on throughout April and May during which you will get to see fields of flowers come alive. Race season picks up again in October when the temperatures drop once more and the trees turn colour.
Here are my bucket list of marathons and races in South Korea.
1. Jeju International Tourism Marathon Festival
Grab the opportunity to run alongside beautiful coastlines and beaches throughout the Jeju International Tourism Marathon Festival. The route goes in and out along the coastal, offering mesmerising views along the way. After your run, you can participate in the activities at the runner's village at the start and finishing line and enjoy a free flow of abalone porridge with a side of freshly made kimchi.
When: May (Spring)
When: May (Spring)
Where: Gwanghwamun, Seoul
|Source: Chuncheon International Marathon
Where: Chuncheon, Gangwon
|Source: Jeju Tourism Organisation
Where: Jeju World Cup Stadium, Jeju
|Source: Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon
Where: Bodeok-dong office, Gyeongju
1. Allow time to acclimatize
As soon as a marathon date is announced, accommodations tend to get snatched up faster than branded handbags on sale. So here’s a pro tip: As soon as you sign up for a marathon, book your accommodation on a hotel booking website that allows for free cancellations and date adjustments in case of plan changes after. My favourite booking site is Booking.com for obvious reasons.
3. Plan Your Pre-Race Day Meal
One thing I've learnt the hard way is not planning my meals before a major race. This has left me sitting a secluded KFC eating horrible fried chicken in Australia and munching on an super oily croquette at a cafe overlooking Shibuya. All runners would know the cardinal rule in the running world – “Do not try anything new on race day.” Abiding by this rule might be hard in Korea as the cuisine is just top-notch, be it a high-class restaurant or at a cafe.