It’s less than 2 months to go till the Pyongyang Marathon 2015, and you’re not too late to sign up. Also known as Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, this is an annual marathon race that takes place each April in the capital of North Korea. Held for the first time in 1981, the race has been opened up to foreign tourists and everyday runners starting from last year. This will be an incredible opportunity to visit the hermit kingdom. Join other Shanghaiist readers at the marathon by choosing one of four Pyongyang Marathon tour options departing from Beijing and Shanghai. Read on for the details!
ALL You Need to Know about the 2015 Pyongyang Marathon
WHO CAN RUN:
Almost anyone can run in the amateur marathon alongside professional runners. Americans, and other nationalities, can apply!
It’s not possible to register for the race on your own. You will need to book a Pyongyang Marathon Tour with an official DPRK tour operator and then let them know which category you want to sign up for (full, half or 10K). They’ll send you all you need to know about traveling to the DPRK as well as running in the race. See tour information below.
There are no caps placed on the number of registered runners the marathon committee will accept. This has been confirmed with the Official Pyongyang Marathon Committee – they are welcoming as many runners as possible. However, April will be an incredibly busy month in the DPRK, and it’s possible that hotel accommodations and plane tickets will sell out quickly. It’s recommended to book as soon as possible.
For 2015, there are four Pyongyang Marathon tour options.
Pyongyang Marathon Short Tour – Shanghai Departure
April 10-13 | departure from Shanghai Pudong Airport | 3 nights, 4 days in the DPRK | DPRK visas and Air Koryo flight included, orientation dinner in Shanghai, PY Marathon, PY city tour & DMZ tour | Starting at $1,250 USD
Pyongyang Marathon Short Tour – Beijing Departure
April 11-14 | departure from Beijing Capital International Airport | 3 nights, 4 days in the DPRK | DPRK visas and Air Koryo flight included, orientation dinner in Beijing, PY Marathon, PY city tour & DMZ tour | Starting at $1,250 USD
Pyongyang Marathon Long Tour – Shanghai Departure
April 10-16 | departure from Shanghai Pudong Airport | 6 nights, 7 days in the DPRK | DPRK visas and Air Koryo flight included, orientation dinner in Shanghai, PY Marathon, exclusive PY Bike Tour, boat ride in Nampho, DMZ tour | Starting at $2,050 USD
Pyongyang Marathon Long Tour – Beijing Departure
April 10-16 | departure from Beijing Capital International Airport | 5 nights, 6 days in the DPRK & 1 additional night in Beijing | Beijing accommodations, DPRK visas and Air Koryo flight included, orientation dinner in Beijing, PY Marathon, PY city tour, DMZ tour & mountain hiking excursion | Starting at $1,850 USD
For those who want an even longer stay and a trip to the Eastern Coast of the DPRK, there is a longer 10-night option available which can be combined with the Pyongyang Marathon tours departing from Beijing: 10-Night Kim Il Sung Birthday Tour!
Click here for more information on How to Book a North Korea Tour.
Full marathon: $100 USD
Half marathon: $70 USD
10K: $50 USD
Spectators: $28 USD to watch soccer/football matches in the Kim Il Sung Stadium during the race
(Registration fees are collected prior to the tour; cost of the tour package is additional)
DISTANCE AND FINISH TIME:
Full Marathon: 42.195km; finish time of 4 hours
Half Marathon: 21.0975km; finish time of 4 hours
10K: finish time of 2 hours
There are no official qualifying times for the amateur marathon. However, you must either FINISH or STOP within the times mentioned above. If you do not finish within those times, a bus will pick you up and escort you back to the stadium. The streets will be re-open to traffic at about 1pm.
The race starts and ends in the Kim Il Sung Stadium. Professionals and amateurs will start at the same location and time. Race starts at approximately 9am and is finished before 1pm.
The official 2014 Pyongyang Marathon course route:
Depart from Kim Il Sung Stadium
Pass through the Arch of Triumph
Kumrung No.2 Tunnel
Congryu Rope Ladder on Taedong River
Munsu Riverside Street
Puksae riverside street
Re-enter through the Arch of Triumph
Arrive back at the Kim Il Sung Stadium
This is a 10K course and the marathon will make this loop 4 times, the half marathon twice.
You’ll be running in the streets of Pyongyang, which are relatively flat. One lap is about 10km. Those running the 10K will do one lap and end right past the Arch of Triumph. Those running the half marathon will do 2 laps and those running the full marathon will do 4 laps. There will be km markers throughout the course to let you know how long to go before the finish line. There will also be cars with digital timers that will lead the pack to let runners know how much time has elapsed. There are 2 water stations per every 10km and restroom stops along the way. Lastly, for those who require energy gels, you should bring them with you and one of the staff members will hand them to you at the designated water stations during the race.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Please wear solid colors; no tie dye, pictures or lettering. Top and bottom can be different colors, so long as they are one solid color each. If your shirt has a small logo, the logo can be no bigger than 30cm in rectangular size and the lettering must be less than 4cm in size, according to the regulations of the International Federation.
You’ll be given a number to pin to your shirt during the race. All runners must have a number affixed to their shirts.
WHAT YOU’LL GET:
Firstly, you’ll get a support kit from Uri Tours which includes a nifty Pyongyang Marathon T-shirt, re-fuel drinks, energy snacks, marathon stickers and a bunch of other exclusive DPRK goodies!
Each amateur runner will get a certificate issued by the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon Committee. If you come in first, second or third in any of the amateur categories, you will also be awarded a medal at the awards ceremony in front of 50,000 local spectators in the Kim Il Sung stadium. Our American runner won 2nd in the half-marathon category in 2014!
Finally, you’ll have a lifetime of bragging rights for running in this ultra-cool Pyongyang marathon!
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PROFESSIONAL RUNNERS
To qualify for the professional marathon, you must have the below qualifying times:
Men need a record of less than 2 hours and 27 minutes
Women need a record of less than 2 hours and 38 minutes
Registrants must provide proof of an official record time from the past 3 years
The International Athletics Federation registers the records of professional marathon runners who attend the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon.
These runners made history in 2014 by being among the first foreign amateurs to run in the Pyongyang Marathon! See more pictures from the 2014 Pyongyang Marathon HERE.
There was an EXCLUSIVE tour of the Kim Il Sung Stadium the day before the race. Pre-race, they drove the entire route of the marathon to get familiar with the route and course conditions.
Edward from the US: read his pre-race thoughts in RUNNER’S WORLD and Pacific Daily News
Morgan from France: read his thoughts on the race in RUE89
Jacob from Nova Scotia, Canada: read his thoughts on the race in CBC (originally in the AP)
Shari and Jim from Las Vegas running their first marathon ever!