'Surreal' Pyongyang marathon in spotlight as tensions ease

Nearly 1,000 foreigners raced in North Korea's Pyongyang marathon on Sunday as tensions between North Korea and South Korea have eased in the last year. — Reuters

Athletes run through the capital of the reclusive state in the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, as the race is officially known.

Nearly 1,000 foreigners, several hundred more than last year, signed up in the sixth year foreign runners have been allowed to compete, according to officials, as tensions between North Korea and South Korea have eased since 2018.

A video provided by North Korea's official news agency KCNA, which Reuters cannot independently verify, showed North Korean and foreign runners starting the race as thousands cheered in the Kim Il Sung Stadium.

KCNA said the event included a full marathon, a half-marathon and 10km and 5km runs.

The first three in the men's full marathon were from North Korea, the winner being named as Ri Kang Bom, who clocked two hours 12 mins 53 seconds.

Among the competitors were two Olympians, retired Swiss freestyle skier Mirjam Jaeger, a 2014 Sochi Olympic participant, and British snowboarder Aimee Fuller, who took part in the 2014 and 2018 winter Olympics. Running alongside competitors from the host country were entrants from China, Morocco and Ethiopia.

Published: 8 Apr 2019