Half Marathon Training, running

Steve’s Half Marathon Race Report: Gust, Guts & Glory

Hello fellow runners,

If you’ve been following my weekly training posts, you’ll know that I was racing yesterday in Mokpo, Korea. The race was the Mokpo Half Marathon. Mokpo is a seaside city, located in the South Western tip of South Korea.

The leadup

The lead-up to the race couldn’t have gone any better. I felt well rested and felt  eager to race. We even went to a Halloween party the night before. Sometimes it’s nice to go out, to keep your mind off the upcoming race. I did most of my runs on the treadmill as the air pollution was quite bad this week, I was taking no chances. The last workout was on Wednesday. It was a race pace workout, 5×3 minutes at race pace (3.44/km) with 1 minute recovery jog in-between. It’s important to hit race pace the week of races, but not the same volume as you would have done in previous weeks.

The Event site

In Korea, race organisers send out your bib and race pack in advance of the race. Do you think this would be feasible in the West? The site for the race was quite unique. It was held at the Mokpo Maritime University. It was cool, to be right on the ocean at the start, there’s also a ship beside the start line. To the right of the start, stands Yudalsan Mountain and to the left is the massive Mokpo bridge. The food after the race was good, there’s everything from fish soup to red bean buns!

mokpo warm up
Nice backdrop for a warm up


The race – 1-3km

The race was off and I felt strong, however the start was mostly uphill, I remained calm and tried to get in a good position. It was very windy, so I wanted to stay tucked in behind the lead group….. early days.

3km to the turn-around point (10.5km) 

Just before the 3km mark, was when the going got tough. The course route map suggested that there was a gradual incline over the bridge. I just underestimated how long the climb was and how long the bridge was. It felt like I was climbing forever. Once we reached the summit, it didn’t get any easier. After climbing for 2km, the legs were feeling worse for wear. I refocused on getting into a rhythm and chased down the leaders, checking each km split. 3.50,3.45,3.45, I’m back on track I thought. What I had noticed coming to the turnaround point, was that, we had the wind with us all the way to the turnaround.

Turn-around to the 17km point

Here is where my thoughts switched to racing and not shooting for a time. The headwind was so strong, to the point where the traffic cones were flying across the road. I knew the back half was going to be a mental and physical battle. Normally at the turnaround I feel strong and ready to up the pace. This time it was more a case of keeping the effort high, but also trying to keep some energy in reserve for the climb back over the bridge. I just focused on the guy in 3rd place and started to reel him in. I was closing the gap on the leaders on the worst windy sections and the uphills. When we reached the foot of the bridge climb, I began to up the effort and eventually reeled in third place. He then told me that he was over 50 and so was the leader. This was a relief, I had someone to work with to catch my target in second place. We worked together, taking turns drafting. It was mostly him drafting off me because,I am foot taller, so me drafting behind him wouldn’t be as beneficial. The wind was so bad, I looked at my watch, while at max effort and I was doing 5.30/km pace, that was the case for 2 to 3 kilometres. The headwind was so strong, but coupled with the gusts, it meant forward running was near impossible.

mokpo flight
Not sure what point this was taken, but i was hurting!


17km to the finish

We reached the top of the bridge and tried to make up for lost time, however the wind was still pushing us back. It wasn’t until the 19km mark that the gusts calmed as we reached the base of the mountain. At this stage my drafting buddy took flight, I tried to keep up but I was maxed out for the last 2km. It was a hilly finish, so even then there was no relief! Coming down the home stretch, I was thinking thank god that’s over. The organisers put the 2nd place badge around me. That meant a nice pay check and some silverware, it made it all worthwhile!

The aftermath

mokpo award
Awards ceremony, some nice silverware.



Catherine had just finished her 10km, we were both like wounded soldiers but glad to have made it out in one piece! I’m so proud of her for running her first 10km race and finishing 12th overall woman. Her race report will be up soon, so check that out.

I love chatting to runners after the race, it’s especially fun when they only have broken English at best. We were dragged into pictures and asked numerous questions. Then I was approached by a group of runners from the KIA car company. They have their own running team based in my hometown. So after some talking, they asked me to join. It should be fun training with them.

I received my glass trophy, posed for photos and got the bus home.

The stats:

mokpo race strava
Strava-Yudalsan half marathon-Mokpo


Final thoughts

Not a race for some fast times, but it made for some exciting racing. Luckily I have a chance at redemption as I’m running another half marathon in two weeks time. I learned from this race that you should keep your head, even if the times aren’t going to be fast. This race was more of a mental challenge than most.

Feel free to share a similar race experience with us.

Thanks for reading,

Until next time,

Happy running,


The Health Heads

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