Challenge Jeju: Korea
The inaugural race was held on Jeju island off the southwest coast of South Korea. One of the seven wonders of nature and features an excessive quality of Dol hareubangs (giant stone korean gnomes) which apparently bring protection and if you touch them on the nose, fertility.
Race venue was at Haebichi Beach, a windsurfing beach neighboured by an ancient Korean village, quiet costal roads and not much else so official accommodation was in the heart of Seigwipo (a 45min bus trip to race venue but easily accessible with organized shuttles). A vibrant downtown city which definitely encouraged venturing and cultural insight. Though i saved the extravagant food tasting for after the race and managed a close resemblance of my preferred pre race meal (chicken Iskander and a good luck cider) with a salad from a french bakery, sushi triangles form the 7 eleven and the Korean local ‘Hite’ which comes in anything form a 500ml -2.5L bottle at any local store.
Race day -
The swim was something a bit different, low tide meant that the water levels weren't above head height the entire course and were knee deep for about half of it. I got good at skipping and duck diving quite quickly. I exited the water in second place, feeling a little bit sorry for the gun swimmers. Though our whole field had a lot less spread than usual.
Onto the bike leg, 2laps of mostly fast highway surfaced roads, starting the loop with a 10km incline and followed by a long gradual decent which required a little bit of extra concentration to keep your power up. I came off the bike with a 5minute lead (although I had no idea of my lead until the 10km turn around on the run).
The run followed the subtly undulating highway, then along the coastal road which featured mass seaweed and squid drying production. I ran the first half comfortably and was pleased I didn't need to pick up the pace on the return journey once I calculated my lead. I was happy to cross the line in first place after the very long feeling yet very novel final kilometre as it wove through an ancient Korean village and finished under a massive wooden arch with the infamous Dol Hareubangs either side. Congrats to all the finishes on another hot day and Sarah and Mary Beth for joining me on the podium.
Stayed an extra day with a few fellow kiwis to further explore the island, join in on the niche ’coffee&beer' shops, window shop at the boutiques and even stumbled across an art trail of local galleries and outdoor sculpture.