As runners, we have the amazing and unique opportunity to see a lot of various towns, cities, and countrysides from the best possible angle – on the ground. We all run in interesting places at times and it is always nice to snap some photos of what we see and take in the beauty of the landscape or cityscape. In that spirit, I am going to start doing some posts of various places that I might run and photos of what I see on the way. If you would like, send me your cities and photos as well for others to see and so we all know what to look for when we run in those places!
On the Run: Seoul and the Olympic Park
Last week, I stopped in Seoul on my way back from Greece (I know, not the shortest way home!) and was really anxious to check out the Olympic complex from the 1988 Olympics. I have a thing for these places and love the history and design, as well as the national design that goes into the buildings. Unfortunately, many former Olympic complexes have fallen into damaged heaps of their previous glory. This can be seen in some of the venues just from the Beijing Olympics a few short years ago – here. If you want to see the marathons that have Olympic finishes, check out this post
Anyway, I did not know what to expect for Seoul (I did not even look it up – I wanted to be surprised) but was very curious to find it. I took off out of my hotel (the Park Hyatt) and turned right to head up to the bridge. I crossed over the bridge and kept running and noticed, just up on the left, a sign that said “Olympic Stadium.” It was a little small and still about 2 miles or so short of where I had believed the correct one to be according the to map, so I assumed this was one of the many stadiums that were available for various competitions.
When I did come up on it, I realized I could not have missed it. First of all, there were signs all the way along on the street signs saying “Olympic Park” so that helped to keep me on the right track. When I came upon it, I was met with the sight of the huge entrance arch to the whole park.
It was in much better shape than I had anticipated! I ran closer and even found a nice marking to indicate where the best place was for photos. After entering the arch, I saw a flame that they still have burning. It was cool to see a nice show of keeping the spirit of the Olympics alive there.
The park was wide open and had many flags at the end of the courtyard. They were the flags representing the various countries that had participated. You could actually run in the middle of the row of the curved setup of the flags. To the right of the flags was a walkway that led to a boardwalk near the water. On that side, there were more writings and markings to denote the results and memory of the Olympics.
After checking out that area, I ran back around the park to the other side. The running path was fantastic and led me past many of the fields used for various sports during the Olympics. At my turnaround point, I saw the arenas for handball and some other sports. Also, in the middle of that courtyard (called Haneol Plaza) giant red crescent sculpture.
All in all, I was very impressed with the upkeep of the grounds at this Olympic complex – especially considering that it 26 years old! Not only that, but during my run to the park, I spotted many statutes and sculpures depicting various parts of the Olympics. It is really nice to see what a part it played in the heart of the city of Seoul. After making my way around the city a bit and experiencing the amazing hospitality of the Korean people, I would love to see the Olympics return to Seoul at some point.
If you are interested in having your own Olympic finish to a marathon, the Seoul Marathon does provide the finish line at the Olympic stadium/park! It should be a fantastic experience and one that I would put on my to-do list! It will be held on March 15th next year and more information can be found here.