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Posted: Sat 5:47, 06 Jul 2013
Post subject: Portland International Travel
Portland International Travel
The international Nike Women's Race 7k took place last weekend at Sangam World Cup Stadium in Seoul. The event, sponsored by Nike and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, had the format and purpose of a conference/international festival for 20something women who don't have a lot of experience in distance running. Countries that have recently hosted this race include Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, and Singapore.
A bouquet of celebritiesactress Park Hanbyul,
, SECRET, soccer player Ki Sungyueng, and the boyband TVXQ's members Jung Yunho and Changmin (Who are so cute!)advertised the race via YouTube. Various Nike products were also simultaneously advertised in conjunction with the event, such as the
Run+2 and Nike+ iPhone GPS app. While many critics accuse the race of being one big advertisement for Seoul tourism, Nike, and whatever other product or personality, Nike and the Seoul government celebrated the event as a promotion of health and community building for the upcoming generation of young Korean women. Either way, it was fun and lord knows these Korean girls need to build some muscle!I fit the criteria for the race, and I like running,
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, so I participated (with my Nike+iPhone app). Upon entering Pyounghwa (Peace) Square, I encountered a scene that looked like an Asian prison mixed with a school carnival. A sea of girls in identical orange tshirts. Several lines had been neatly formed as race participants waited eagerly to take their pictures by a simple white banner that read "NIKE WOMEN'S RACE 7k." A man asked to take a picture of us for the Hi!Seoul Facebook page. (We never showed up, so I guess we didn't make the cut).
There were dozens of girls' bathrooms that had been brilliantly arranged for the event. 6000 girl participants in a relatively small space and there was, at most,
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, one or two girls in each line. I call that a job well done, planning committee. We walked past that miracle to get closer to the starting line.
Unlike most races, there were no warmup jogs going on, but instead random bustling around an array of attractions such as an exhibition center for the new Nike Free Run+2 and more lines of girls waiting to take pictures in front of various bizarre props: a handsome boy dressed like a reggae star boasted a line of about 25 girls. There was even a tent that offered to print your pictures out immediately.
In another corner, a screaming mob had gathered (I assume due to the appearance of a celebrity) and arms shot up, like an army of Xuanfeng catapults stopping short of throwing their iPhones at whoever was causing the excitement.
Many women celebrities participated in the event including Go Uri from the band Rainbow, actress Yoon Seungah (who looked especially grumpy at the beginning of the race), actress and broadcaster Lee Yuneun, actress Bak Boyoung,
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, beautiful actress and beauty pageant winner Bak Shiyun, drama actress Gang Yewon and some others.
Growling out a peptalk at the starting line as the marching band played was comedian No Hongchul, the host of the variety show Infinity Challenge, and formerly on the cast of One Night Two Days.
I was in group B, the noncompetitive group. Group A commenced with not a starting gun but colorful fireworks and flares. 5 minutes later,
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, the lazy group went off. The race was incredibly crowded, but the course was beautiful (Pyounghwa Square to Haneul Park to Hangang Park to Gureumdari and back again). All along the way there were random groups of guys cheering and giving highfives and two Powerade stops. I trotted in at 173rd place (ahem out of 6000) but saw that, ahead, the first 50 finishers were escorted past the finish line by HBIBTs. Upon finishing I turned in my tracking sensor, was branded with a Nike stamp, and handed a huge bag filled with food,
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, water and women community announcements. Everyone who completed the race was also given a necklace that, they say, was designed by Kim Yuna! Also, as much Powerade as our hearts desired.
After cooling down, we wandered to the stage where the visual art and ceremonies were scheduled to take place. Mr. No was also the MC for the After Party festivities in which HBIBTs passed out champagne. Not only were the HBIBT waiters handsome but extremely attentive; there were arms popping out of nowhere to pass new champagne glasses before my glass was even empty. The champagne glasses were another free gift. Halffull Powerade bottles were littering the venue. Such a gloriously indulgent sight will never exist again as it did that day.
Mr. No started growling like a pirate monkey again to congratulate all the participants and introduced the first place winner. Finally, he presented us with the Seoul Symphony Orchestra to start the postrace concert. They played some swing and some kind of delightful gypsyish piece.
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