Traveling from Chungju, a small, gritty town, the view of Daegu was quite a sight for sore Americanized eyes. Of course, as a trail runner, I have a rough side unafraid to get dirty and grimy, but I do have my city gal tendencies as well and totally appreciate a well appointed hotel room with bidets.
A bit deflated from the shortened run in Chungju, I was procrastinating to get out to the trail. Would I be able to push through and complete at least the 50k scheduled for the day? I even had the hope of tacking on some extra miles to make up from the Day 2 deficit.
About a mile from the hotel is the Sincheon River trail, well maintained and very social with lots of people and activities. My plan was to take this trail down for about 7 miles or so until I hit the reservoir area which also boasted a dam…of which I just HAD to take pics! I figured a 16 mile loop was safe. I knew I’d be able to finish at least one of those, even with possible oppressive heat and humidity.
Little did I know how energized I would feel running along this river so close to the mountains. A run that seemed a bit daunting at first became sheer joy! I had no discomfort in the legs. I reveled in the energy, the surrounding environment, and had such fun just observing the people and culture of Daegu PLUS unintentionally running (literally) into a Buddhist prayer center only added to the awesomeness of the day!
One of the striking things about running through Korea, especially in more rural areas, and even in Seoul, there are very few runners in comparison to cyclists on the trails…especially distance/ultrarunners with Orange Mud hydration packs who are way too tan!
I get stares from everyone…men, women, children, young, old. I “look” Korean, yet my skin tone doesn’t quite fit in. I’m dressed in an unfamiliar looking hydration pack and running gear. I have boobs and a lot more muscle tone than almost all Korean women. LOL. I suppose I’m a bit perplexing, especially to the older Korean generations.
It hasn’t been uncommon that passers-by will mutter unsolicited comments such as, “It’s so hot, why don’t you just walk!” said by an old dude on the river trail yesterday! I literally snorted when I heard that one.
So I’m searching for this reservoir that I saw on the hotel tourist map. The first time, I ran past it by about a mile. I turned around and found the road that led to where it should’ve been but all I met with was a steep flight of stairs that led to a mountainside trail. I was determined to get some awesome pics of the dam and reservoir.
As I saw no way through to what should’ve been a majestic view, I decided to climb. But my efforts were not rewarded. I nearly killed myself twice slipping on the way down. It was so steep and sandy that I decided to lower myself utilizing both hands and feet after falling hard on my flat Korean arse twice! I don’t usually get nervous but this time I was, because if I fell off the side, I could get injured and bit to death by mosquitos, or worst yet, just die, before anyone found me!
It wasn’t until I saw another road opposite of where I was that I had a glimmer of hope that perhaps I would snap an amazing shot of this damned dam!!!
I felt complete when what looked like a “handmade” dam came into view. I could now return back on the trail to complete my first loop. The only unfortunate thing was not getting a view of the reservoir but from where I was, there was no feasible way.
By the time I was finishing up the first 16 miles, I’d been on blistered feet for over 3 hours and my cell phone battery was worn down. I was worried about my coach who was riding an ungodly 134 miles from Chungju. It was getting dark and I wanted to make sure if either of us was going to die, we could at least drop our Google pins and our bodies could be found!
I made an executive yet dangerous decision that I would go back to the hotel, charge my phone a bit, drink a shake and change my soaked socks before heading out for my second loop. Dangerous because there was the possibility that an air conditioned, luxurious hotel room would tempt me to somehow justify not finishing.
But really, knowing how much my coach was suffering, I couldn’t punk out like that. I went back out and killed the second loop which I had adjusted to stay on the river trail as it was dark. This time, I plugged into my playlist and wondered where the energy came from!
Before I knew it, it was close to 11pm, got the text that my partner in epic-ultra-adventure-crime was safely back at the hotel and I had completed another loop to complete my 50k for the day! Total mileage over 3 days: 128.75k…not bad for an amateur forty-something mommy runner!
Because it was such a long day and the fact that Daegu has so much to offer, we decided to stay one more night here to recover and take on Busan tomorrow!