Destinations Marathons

Pyongyang Marathon

Pyongyang Marathon
Written by Charlie

I saw something this week about the Pyongyang Marathon that takes place in North Korea. Apparently, you can sign-up for this race through tour groups that handle all of the paperwork for you and your travel itinerary in North Korea.

Pyongyang Marathon


Pyongyang Marathon

There are certain races around the world that have a very exotic element to them – this has to be one of the most interesting of them. Undoubtedly, North Korea is one of the hardest countries to get in. From my understanding from friends who have been there, you are rarely (if ever) left alone during your visit. If you ever wanted to be able to tour Pyongyang on your own without a government escort, running 26.2 miles throughout the city might be the only way to do it! Note: One website says that you must either complete or stop your marathon within 3 hours – not sure if that is for real or not.

This race has been going on for sometime but apparently 2014 is the first time that it is being opened to amateur runners (that’s us!).  The only way to enter the marathon is as part of a tour group. These tour prices run from as little as €445 for a 3-day mini package to over €1500 for the longer packages. It could cost €50 for the visa process (which one agency says they can get for you without a problem as long as you are not a journalist). Supposedly, anyone is welcome except South Korean citizens.

Obviously, you would not be able to use miles and points to stay in North Korea or to fly into North Korea. All tours start with your arrival into China. At that point, that tour company handles the rest of your travel arrangements.

Tour Companies Offering Marathon Packages:


That is obviously everyone’s first thought when thinking of traveling to North Korea. If you are adventorous, this could be just the race for you. However, many of your friends and relatives may try to talk you out of signing up for this one! I have been in a similar country before and I can tell you that your movement around the country will be more limited than you may have been used to in other countries. So, should you decide to go, leave your personal travel expectations at home.

If you would like to check out the photos and trip reports of one who has been to North Korea twice, check out fellow BA blogger Stefan on his Rapid Travel Chai page.

Should you decide to run this, please do let me know so I can touch base with you afterwards to get your report!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Another flyertalk member tweet me with a link on that tour group. My years full, but planning on doing it in 2015. Want to join me?

  • I’ve been to DPRK and I’ve found it one of the easiest countries to get in — as long as you’re not a journalist and can pay the $$$ of one of the tour groups. Since you are with a tour group, I felt quite safe (safer than most African countries I’ve been to) and it would be interesting to run 26.2 miles in the DPRK! I’d think they are serious about the 3 hour time limit but who knows. I’m already full for 2014 but perhaps in 2015? April 15th is a big holiday in DPRK (Kim il sung’s birthday) so if you stay for 2 more days, you’ll get to see a lot of parades, etc.

    • Thanks, Joey! Good to know! I am intrigued enough that I may actually want to run it sometime. Some others mentioned 2015 to me as well – maybe we can have a little group there!

  • You’re motivated to run; the dogs are chasing you.

    Instead of a starting gun, you get “Release the hounds.”

    • No, the starting gun shot is just the first of many of the day’s executions…

      I think it is despicable that anyone dreams of supporting such a nasty regime, let alone wants to go run a silly marathon there. Where are your ethics/morals???? How many people died from this horrific regime over the last 50 years? Millions!!

      • Thanks for the comment, Paul. It is very true that North Korea is the poster country for tourism ethics and the very things that you mention are the things that would hold me back from wanting to visit.
        However, as humans we are curious about the living habits and cultures of others. Running races is one of the many different ways to experience different cultures and meet local people. Also, the chances are the if someone really wanted to visit for a tour, the best chance to be alone in the country would be while running a marathon. That is the part that intrigues me.

  • I’ve travelled with Explore North Korea & just contacted them… looks like they’re operating the tours for the marathon! Tour was amazing, might just have to go for this run. If you want to post their site, it’s

  • it sounds interesting as -based on my visit in 2005- a local guide is always with you during your stay in DPRK – will he run with you? 🙂

    This year I can’t make it in April, maybe next year.

    • That is the part that makes me want to run it – getting to check out the city without a guide! I can’t imagine they have enough guides that can run to follow all the runners (especially if that one part is true about needing to complete it in 3 hours).

  • I sent an email to Koryo Tours and they said there is no time limit for amateur runners so no 3 hour time limit. I believe that is for the professional runners and that statement may have carried over from previous years. I guess the worst that can happen is that you get detained for not finishing on time.

  • Very nice Pyongyang Marathon being open to tourists for the first price. I will participate, just booked a tour with . Best price I think. Looking forward to run the most exciting marathon of the world

  • You can also join through this site :, operated mostly out of Hong Kong. All tours in cooperation with Koryo Tours Ltd, by far the most experienced and most reliable agency for DPRK travel. Remember, there’s only one ‘first time’ ! See you in Pyongyang !

  • Dear friends,
    I have e-mailed several tour operators and Experience North Korea ( have been by far the most responsive! They have sent me some pictures of their runners of 2014 and I NEED to go next year. Beware of operators who say they will but have not operated a marathon tour, we all know what happens with unexperienced and cheap companies who have no idea about running events.
    I have submitted my documentation and they have just confirmed I am signed up.
    Who is coming along? I cannot believe I will go, yeeeeeah!