Challenges are beautiful!
It was Dec 3, 2016. I found myself among the 91 participants who registered the Busan Galmegi Ultramarathon. I did 6 marathons this year (Yeouido, Ulsan, Seoul, Jeju, Gunsan and Changwon) a trail Ultramarathon (Jirisan 55K), a few Olympic triathlons and 3 Half Ironman races; those were great races but I really thought of running a 100K ultramarathon before the year end and luckily, I found this event.
To be honest, I found the cut off of this race quite… errr tight. The time I did the BDM 102K six years ago, I clocked 17:22 and then a year after in BDM 160, though my time was not recorded at km 102, I know I did at least 16hrs, so this was still quite a challenge for me, but thinking that I am a wiser (or probably not) runner now, I know, that I can so really damn do it! Thanks to my friends Hyonshim and Jeongho for giving me moral support before the race! That add up to my confidence. Hah!
People were surprised to see me as I was the only foreigner in the event. They inquired where I am from and what races have I been doing. I am surprised as well to see many of them myself as some of the participants are good enough to be considered my dad, but I have so much respect for them as I have seen their performances in races that I have joined. Truly amazing!
It was probably 6oC that night. I was wearing my favorite ironman shirt, that’s good for chilly weather. I started slow as I know it will be really a long race, though it was weird because I felt my legs were a bit heavy, and here I was analyzing, maybe I didn’t rest enough or maybe my legs were still tired due to my Changwon Marathon two weeks ago – but heck whatever, “I am already running and need to suck it up whatever the odds are.”
The race was a loop of 4 which I thought quite boring, there were pros and cons but I looked at it positively (it doesn’t matter). On first loop, 3hrs 20min; I will just be ok with this speed… while I thought everything fine, I was wrong… because my drama began at km 27 as I felt my stomach was knocking and telling me that something is wrong. I ignored… but I started having chills, I endured it until I reached the nearest place where I… and that took me more than 10 minutes…
After that stop, the cold wind pierced me, I needed to stop again to wear my wind breaker. At the 3rd checkpoint I told myself, that maybe it’s not bad to quit; however, I saw my friend JeongHo and gave me rice rolls and energy bars – I was already a bit disoriented that it took time for me to notice him – haha! Damn I can’t quit now.
At km 50 – I clocked 7hrs 20 min. I think that is bad… It took me 4 hours to complete the second loop, I immediately had some food and left the check point, and I can really feel how sore I was.
Before the next checkpoint, quitting played again on my mind, yet to my surprise, my good friend JeongHo was still there. Damn, damn, damn… no quitting!
Km 75 – 11hrs 20min… I just have 3hrs40minutes to spare… At that time, I know that I will really have difficulty… Km 87.5 – 13hrs 10 min… 7:10AM. With less than 2 hours the remaining 12.5km is easy on fresh legs, but not with mine at that time… I keep telling myself to push, but my body would no longer respond to it. I know I could finish but, not with the cutoff…
Km99. 15hrs… Suddenly I saw the organizers – they were shouting at me, Push! Push! They ran with me… Until I eventually reached the finish line.
To be honest, I felt a very slight emotional pain of not completing the race on time, although as I try to reflect, that was my best 100km time, and I should be content about it. The organizers who walked with me were happy as well with my success; 61 out of 91 runners completed the event, JeongHo recounts that some of the marshals thought that I would quit soon, but I was so thankful I didn’t.
Indeed, it was a great day. Will I do it again? Yes!