Tag Archives: Running

Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Race

Spring in Korea is a really beautiful time of year! There are so many flowers that come out in bloom and the weather is usually starting to get nice and warm. Given that Ryan and I have both gotten even more interested in running since we moved here, we went ahead and signed up for the Cherry Blossom Marathon Race. Ryan did the half marathon, I did the 10k, and we recruited a couple of friends to come and do the 10k as well. The race was towards the end of the cherry blossom season, but we were still able to catch some glimpses of some remaining flowers.

Cherry Blossoms

What made the weekend even more fun was the area that it was in: Gyeonju – the old capital of the kingdom of Silla which ruled a majority of Korea for period of time. It also has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are also considered Korean National Treasures. We had heard from some of our Korean friends that this is their favorite part of Korea so we were excited to check it out. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive, so we started our road trip right after work on Friday night. When we finally made it there, the owner of the pension house (comparable to a bed and breakfast without the free breakfast) where we were staying came running out saying “Kendrick, Kendrick!” She was apparently very excited that we were finally here. She took us up to our room and then sat down with us to show us how to get to the race and what sights she recommended seeing while we were here. We headed straight to bed because we were absolutely exhausted – it was a typical Korean bed which feels like sleeping on the floor; however, we were both so tired that we slept like babies. The other aspects that made it very uniquely Korean were the brightly colored decorations and then the bathroom that has one drain in the middle of the room for all water to drain down; there is no separate shower or divider for that part of the bathroom…it basically means that your entire bathroom is wet all the time which is not what we’re used to but it works. The next morning, the owner came back into our room bright an early to bring us the breakfast of champions in preparation for running.

Gyeonju Pension House

After getting stuck in some traffic and delayed picking up our shirts/numbers, we were finally ready to start. The races are funny because they have a gun shot to announce the run and it is followed by fireworks and streamers and then everyone starts running. The weather was nice and sunny and we all had a great run! After the race, there were a lot of festivities (I wish I had taken pictures of this but my camera was in the car because I didn’t take it running with me) which included some free food and drinks and TONS of Korean people (and a few foreigners) around – they had tea boiled eggs, bananas, beer, and a big barrel of makgeolli (Korean rice wine). It’s a really fun experience and we’ve loved doing races in Korea – we’ll certainly do some more while we are here.

Cherry Blossom Marathon Group 2013

After the race, we all grabbed lunch together and the girls headed back to Geoje and Ryan and I took the afternoon to do a bit of sight seeing around the area. It’s nice to learn a little more about the country you are living and this was a wonderful place to do it. The first stop was the Bulguksa Temple which is a Buddhist temple on a pretty mountainside with a very long history – the temple starting being built int he early 500s and then the rest of it was built in the mid 700s. Sadly, it was burned down by the Japanese and they had to rebuild it – unfortunately, this is a common story in Korea and they make sure to point it out any time possible. That’s one thing about traveling around Asia that is so different from the US – many of the historical sites here are from hundreds of years earlier than anything in the US; definitely changes your perspective a bit.

Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple 2

Bulguksa Temple Door Handle

Bulguksa Temple Plaque

Bulguksa Temple Erin & Ryan

Then, we went to the Seokguram Grotto which is a bit of a drive away from the main area of the Bulguksa Temple and then you have to hike up to the Grotto. They don’t let you take pictures of the actual Buddha inside, but it was a cool statue and the view from on top was great.

View from Grotto in Gyeonju

View from Seokguram Grotto

We really enjoyed our time in Gyeonju – it is certainly one of our favorite spots in Korea. There are some other things that we wanted to see but we weren’t able to see them this time so we’ll just have to go back so we can check it out!

 

Samsung 5K

Since coming here to Korea, Ryan and I have started running more and we’ve been really enjoying it! Our friend told us that there was a 5K sponsored by the other shipyard on Geoje island (about 20 minutes away) and so we signed up. I originally signed up for the 10K and so did Ryan, but my calf had been bugging me so I changed it to the 5K the day before the race. Since I had changed the distance, I had to run with someone elses’ bib (Rachel). We got to the race to check in and missed the memo that we were supposed to wear white long sleeve Samsung polos that had been provided (this is primarily because we don’t work in their yard).

After a little while, there was a dance performance – it was literally a dance team that was performing on the track. There was also a guy yelling out a lot of things in Korean who looked almost identical to the newly internationally famous PSY. Finally, they signalled for all of us to spread out and do some stretches before the race. Once we had all spread out, they started blaring Gangnam Style and had a choreographed routine of stretches led by a woman on stage to the song and of course it involved the horse dance…it was hilarious!

Everyone all lining up for stretches on the field

They had everyone line up for the race on the track behind the starting line and then they started giving us directions in Korean…of which we didn’t understand but we figured it out watching all the Koreans start to follow his instructions. They all lined up in single file lines and starting massaging each others’ shoulders and then he yelled and everyone turned around and started massaging that persons shoulders…totally goofy. Then they started playing some music and everyone started jumping and clapping and then they started yelling for the 10 seconds before they fired the gun for us to go.

Ryan and I with our friend Kristie – all geared up and ready to run!

The race was a neat course because it went through Samsung’s shipyard which we hadn’t seen before. I was feeling pretty good during the race (very surprising because my calf was killing me the weekend before) but I decided to sprint the last 300m to the finish line. It was funny because a few of the Korean men that were running next to me tried to keep up yelling, “Ohhhh, you so fast!” As I hit the finish line, a group of Koreans came up to me and put something around my neck…finally someone came over to explain to me that I had gotten second place for women. I couldn’t believe it and I was pretty excited!

Ryan finished his 10K like a champ and they offered us some celebratory kimchi and tofu which I declined politely. Luckily, we found a tent that had some fruit and juice instead so we munched on that.

A bunch of the Samsung employees got together and performed a dance song to…I bet you can guess which song! Check out the video…it was pretty good (the little kid in the green trying to dance like them makes the video even more fun)!

We thought that we had some time before the award ceremony, so we went for a walk. As we were walking back to the track, we heard some award sounding music but I thought the 5K would be the last award because it was the last to start. As we rounded the corner, I heard “Rachel” and I realized that I was supposed to be on stage because I had run under that name in the race. I ran up there and joined the other 7 ladies that were standing there already and they gave me an award (certificate and trophy are both in Korean) and made us turn around and wave to the “crowd.”Ryan took a picture of me at the finish line with my trophy – all in Korean – certainly an interesting souvenir for us!

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