SPORT

Pyongyang marathon open for entries from foreign runners for second time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 4:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 11:54am

Amateur runners looking for a less liberating marathon experience take note: foreigners are again being invited to jog along the broad avenues of Pyongyang.

This year's Pyongyang marathon was the first to be open to foreigners, with 225 recreational runners and a number of professionals taking part. Entries opened yesterday for next year's race, to be held on April 12.

"The response has been overwhelming," said a spokesman for My Tour Agent, the only agency authorised to organise the tour. "We've already received more than 20 inquiries since we announced [the Pyongyang marathon tour] last week."

Those who take part will be following in the footsteps of four Hongkongers who joined last year's marathon, along with several others who did the half-marathon and 10km races.

Unlike most big-city marathons, which offer runners a range of scenery along the way, the Pyongyang race is confined to four laps of a city centre course, in what past runners saw as an attempt to limit what they saw.

It starts at the Kim Il-sung stadium, passing the Arch of Triumph, the Friendship Tower and the Kim Il-sung University area. Runners then cross a bridge to the east side of the city and wind their way along the riverbank before the lap ends back at the arch.

Participants will again be able to choose between the full or half-marathons or a 10km race.

The HK$11,680 price includes an eight-day tour with accommodation, return travel from Beijing, meals, transport and two English-speaking guides. A four-day option costs HK$7,600.

The agency has been allocated 30 places to be sold via its Hong Kong and Beijing offices. It had received two applications as of yesterday, both from Beijing-based foreigners.

But the costs do not include other fees, such as the US$50 to US$100 race entry fee, visa application fee and expenses such as the obligatory flowers offered at the Mansudae Grand Monument commemorating late leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

Runners from 27 countries took part in this year's Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, which is sanctioned as a bronze-label event by the International Association of Athletics Federations.