Shanghai Running Magazine Volume 3 - Page 12

ny which resulted in bizarre sight of a medical golf cart collecting him up in the middle of the stadium, barely reviving him before returning him to podium to prop him for collection of his bronze medal. For the ceremony itself, the North Korea’s Minister of Sports presented us with our medals and I had my 20 seconds of basking in the applause. Korean runners, most of them were children, presumably young teenagers, which created the peculiar illusion that I was some sort of Pied Piper sprinting through the streets of Pyongyang. Pyongyang itself is a visually stunning city. Its main function appears to be as a showcase for a nation, endless wide open streets, enormous monuments and memorials to the Kims or in commemoration of the war against the “American oppressors”. Running through it was fantastic, with supporters cheering and waving as I went past.  As I was competing in the half marathon I had to complete two laps of the 10km road circuit before returning into the stadium for a final lap. The race was both weirdly professional and amateur at the same time. We ran with racing chips, had motorized television crews and live national television coverage. However there were few rest stops, no nutritional supplies, more about this issue later. By the time I entered the stadium I was so focused on running that I barely noticed the 70,000 cheering. 12 As it was an IAAF event, stewards in white coats were in charge of the official timing. I came to the final lap in the lead and after one hour 23 minutes and 36 seconds, I burst through the tape. It was a personal best for me but not a time in which one could expect to win even a medium-sized event in the West. It was an unbelievable situation: a decent if unremarkable runner winning an event in front of an Olympic-scale crowd. In North Korea. Crazy. I was immediately rushed off to talk to some local media representatives through a translator, mainly meaningless compliments about their country’s hosting me, before being ushered to one side and waiting hours before the ev [