This weekend was the weekend before Nicole’s birthday so we decided to go back to Seoul for some R and R. In this case, R and R meant running and resisting the urge to eat taco bell. We did one of those two things.
Getting to Seoul
After work Friday, Nicole and I caught the bus from the Gwangju bus terminal to Seoul, leaving at 11:30 pm and arriving at 3 am. The nice thing about buses between Seoul and Gwangju is that they run every ten minutes and they’re only about $25. Nicole and I packed snacks to bring along and spent the trip napping and eating Korean chips.
When we arrived, we hailed a cab to Itaewon to stay at the same hostel we’d stayed at last time: the SP@Itaewon guesthouse. The cab ride was about $5 and it was way faster than taking the subway like we did last time. I’d written to the hostel a few days before to let them know that we would be arriving at 3 am. They said they’d leave the room unlocked and we could just let ourselves in and pay in the morning. When Nicole and I got to the hostel our room was locked, lucky for us, I’d accidentally taken the key with me from when we stayed last time, so I let us into our room.
Nicole had signed the two of us up for the Color Me Rad 5k run on Saturday at 11 am, so the two of us threw on some clothes and left the hostel at around 8 am, after about 4 hours of sleep. The only thing open at that time on the streets of Itaewon was McDonald’s, so Nicole and I prepared for our run with Egg McMuffins, terrible coffee, and 4 hours of sleep. I’m sure somewhere out there a runner is cringing at the thought of our pre-race preparations, or lack thereof.
COLOR ME RAD
The Color Me Rad 5k is a race through the Seoul Olympic complex right on the bank of the Han River. It started in the US and its slowly been migrating around the world. The race in Korea had 12,000 registered runners and I would say about half were foreign and half were Korean.
The race course was set up to run through several of the Olympic stadiums and track and field facilities eventually ending where it began. Along the race course, there were several stations with heavy electronic music and people throwing powdered paint at runners. It was awesome. I encourage you to watch the video above if you want to know what it was like. It was such a fun crazy event and it happens all over the world.
Nicole and I got to the race around 10 am and since the race lets runners start every 10 minutes, Nicole and I were able to start almost as soon as we got there. We gathered at the starting line and waited for our cue to go, which in this case was loud music and a ton of paint being thrown into the air/at us.
I expected everyone to start running once we got the go-ahead, but everyone started slowly walking forward. It was very anticlimactic. Once we got a little bit further down the course and into the stadium, the race opened up and we were able to start running. Most of the Koreans struggled with the idea of running or maybe just weren’t feeling it, but a lot of the participants thought of the run as more of a walk and acted accordingly.
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After the run, Nicole and I caught the subway back to our hostel with everyone else. The first few subway stops we were in welcome company as the subway was about half full of people covered in paint. However, after another two transfers and several more stops, Nicole and I became the only ones covered in paint on a very clean Korean subway.
After several showers and lots of scrubbing, Nicole and I went left our hostel and made our way out to Itaewon’s international street and found Mexican food and craft beers. The place was nearly identical to Chipotle back home, complete with the choose your meat/choose your form menu.
Nicole found a really nice part of town for us to walk through Saturday night. Seoul recently completed its largest civic project ever, a man-made river flowing through downtown complete with walkway and laser-fog show. We spent the evening enjoying beverages and walking along this river. There were tons of Korean families out enjoying the riverwalk. We caught the tail-end of one of the laser-fog shows as well.
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Continued in Second Weekend in Seoul: Color Me Rad II