For anyone thinking about running TransJeju next year, here is a brief summary of the course and six race tips from women's champion, Marie McNaughton.
Photo credit: TransJeju
It’s hard to run 100 kilometres but, if you are somewhere new and stunning, it certainly helps! Korea is particularly attractive for trail runners as it has lots of beautiful unspoilt runnable forest trails which so lovely underfoot and fun to navigate.
The TransJeju course is no exception. It's stunning and quite unique. It kicks off at 6am with a climb to the top of the Halla volcano that looks daunting on the course profile, but it really is gradual and totally enjoyable. You’ll find it hard to believe you have reached nearly 2,000m so comfortably!
The views at the top of the island of Jeju and the numerous parasitic cones are spectacular. From there, you enjoy a 15 kilometre descent and you start to realise what you are really battling in this race. Although the course is a very "runnable" in terms of elevation (around 4,000m total), it is extremely technical in nature, traversing large expanses of volcanic rock and multiple river bed crossing that keep you constantly on your toes.
The race winds its way around the beautiful Hallasan National Park. Super challenging long technical sections involve large amounts of unstable volcanic rock, that are interspersed with some amazing running on soft undulating single track forest trails and long fast descents. You will lose count of the number of rock-hopping river bed crossing you’ll negotiate!
When you get a chance to glance up from your feet you are met with views of stunning autumnal forest, beautiful temples and the odd curious deer or squirrel. As you near the finish, there is a large 12 kilometre section of road. At first, this is a welcome reprieve from the concentration of the technical terrain as it winds through a beautiful Korean graveyard. However, it soon becomes a test of your mental toughness to keep a steady pace on the concrete until its spits you out onto the beautiful forest trail again for a lovely undulating 5 kilometres back to the finish.
Tips for the race
- If you're a pole user, this might be one race to leave them at home unless you are very good with them on technical terrain. There is only one long climb at the beginning of the race, which is ‘staired’ and not steep. The rest of the race, you will be mostly alternating between rock-hopping and shuffling on gentle gradients.
- If you don't have strong ankles or are nursing a sprain, consider preemptively strapping your ankles. This is one race where your ankle strength will be really put to the test.
- Wear shoes with good cushioning. The long stretches of volcanic rock are very hard underfoot, and you also have a decent stretch of road towards the end. I’d recommend HOKAs for the race or any well cushioned shoe.
- Train for the race on long sections of runnable but technical runnable trail to build up your stamina on grinding un-even terrain. Examples in Hong Kong could be Boa Vista, Cecil’s Ride second half and HK100 section 3.
- Make sure you have your camera ready for the amazing views at the top of the volcano!
- You’ll need your headlamp for the first half hour of the race until the sunrise around 6:30am.
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