Frozen nipples and minus 5 degrees Celsius: Pyeongchang’s ‘Naked Marathon’ gives Winter Olympics a run for its money

It’s not just the Winter Olympics providing the entertainment in Pyeongchang, with shirts strictly prohibited for annual run in chilling temperatures

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 10:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 10:48am

Hong Kong alpine skier Arabella Ng may have seen her Olympic debut postponed again at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, but nothing could stop hundreds of runners braving the chilling temperatures by going shirtless for the nearby “Naked Marathon”.

“Your nipples may freeze up and you can’t feel all of your body,” said Kim Hyung-min, a member of a group of Korean adrenaline junkies in their thirties known as the “Three Idiot Boys” who completed the 5-kilometre run last weekend.

Temperatures remained at a brisk minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) for the annual South Korean event’s 26th edition, organised by the Korean National Marathon Association and Gangwon-do Province.

Competitors are allowed to wear trousers, gloves and hats but shirts are strictly prohibited for men, while women can wear a vest or sports top.

“Most people would not think to try something like that,” said Kim, who also ran the topless race last year with fellow group members Oh Seock-je and Jung Ho-jun. “We are just three boys who hang out but we proved that it’s not impossible.”

The Naked Marathon may have just happened to coincide with the world’s biggest winter sporting competition this year, but with the postponement of various events in Pyeongchang because of disruptive wind conditions, the race provided some timely stopgap entertainment.

Even Gangwon-do governor Choi Moon-soon took part in the race – and didn’t shy away from going shirtless.

“We were honoured to be in the same city,” said Oh. “The conditions didn’t matter because we were ready to get into unexpected situations.”

“We recommend people to try it,” added Jung. “You get more power after finishing the race.”