4 January 2015 | Seoul Fortress | Trail/City Running | 20km – 3:39 Hours
Just when I thought we had seen all the trails in and around Seoul there was one that topped them all. The Seoul Fortress run which was around 20 kilometers and traces the original city wall of Seoul. A quick look at wikipedia will provide you with some very good history regarding the wall.
The wall was first built in 1396 to defend and show the boundaries of the city, surrounding Hanyang (the old name for Seoul) in the Joseon Dynasty. The wall stretches 18.6 km along the ridge of Seoul’s four inner mountains, Baegaksan, Naksan, Namsan, and Inwangsan. At present, a 12-km section of the wall is designated as Historic Site No. 10 (1963) and is protected accordingly, along with the gates, water gates, and signal fire mounds. Certain sections of the walls have undergone extensive restoration work, having sustained damage or been entirely destroyed at various times in the city’s past.
We had a fantastic group of runners with us for the Fortress Run. Doug, Felix, Anna, Soo, Mike, Jung, Jacky and myself all met up by Hoehyeon Station. Jacky quickly passed out copies of the Seoul City Wall’s Stamp Tour map to each of us. We needed it to keep track of our progress and collect our stamps from the stations along the course. At the end of it we would receive a button as our reward for completing it. After a quick safety brief we all took off to get our first stamp at the Sungnyemun Gate! Fortunately it was only about a Kilometer away. The next one was fairly close too. The second stamp station was located at Kangbuk Medical center which was once the site of the Dongdemun Gate. The third one was just a bit further… Only about 6 kilometers away was the Sukjeongmun Gate. The challenge was running up Inwangsan and Baegaksan to get to it! There was some running but mostly climbing up stairs and taking pictures. However, once you got to the top there were some very breathtaking views of Seoul City. Once we completed that one we made are way down the mountain very carefully because of snow and ice (Mike and I fell) and then we ran through a bit of the city before making it to Naksan. Once we got over that we found our forth stamp at the Heunginjimun Gate near Dongdaemun. We could have stopped there since we had all our stamps but the course wouldn’t have been complete without making it to our favorite mountain… Namsan!
I’ve been up and down and around Namsan so much over the last 3 years I could run it in my sleep but after all of the previous running this last bit was definitely one of the most challenging times I’ve run it. We were all a bit worn out (except for Felix and Mike) but it was definitely a feeling of satisfaction once we made it to the top. We still had to come down and make it back to our starting point. Jacky had promised us all dumplings (mandu) at the end but the place we wanted to go to was closed so we settled on coffee and chicken burritos. All in all it was a great event! I recommend it to all runners who are going to be in Seoul. It definitely gives you a different perspective of this great and historic city!