Race offers more than world-class runners

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Race offers more than world-class runners

The 2015 JoongAng Seoul International Marathon, which starts Sunday morning, is not only about elite runners; it’s where amateur runners can also test their endurance and help patients and disabled athletes.

The organizers expect some 14,000 participants in what is called the “Masters” section, where some amateurs have been showing impressive records. Last year, the best record for the men’s Masters full-course marathon was 2 hours 32 minutes and 40 seconds.

In the event that runs through Jamsil, southern Seoul, and Seongnam, Gyeonggi, blind runners will also be taking part with the help of “Happy Leg” participants. The volunteer marathoners have been guiding visually impaired runners since 2007.

This year, 12 Happy Leg members are running with visually impaired marathoners. They have set a goal of 3 hours 25 minutes to 5 hours to complete the full course. Since two people are running together, they have been training twice a week to prepare for the race.

“I don’t think about the record in the event,” said Kim Jong-il, who is a member of Happy Leg. “By letting blind runners enjoy their race, I feel pride which I can’t explain in words.”

Participants can also sign up for the charity event that donates funds for the treatment of child patients suffering from heart disease. Since 2004, the organizers and the Korea Heart Foundation have been running a “1 won for 1 meter” campaign.

For this year, the foundation will help children from multicultural families. The foundation will also offer free clinics and checkups for heart disease at the site on Sunday.

“Since this is an international marathon event, we decided to prepare the donation event to take care of children of multicultural families,” said Lim Choon-mi from the Korea Heart Foundation. “Although it is 1 won for 1 meter, participants can donate money regardless of their distance. We hope many people will join the campaign.”

BY JOO KYUNG-DON, KIM JI-HAN [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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