Running in Seoul

Inevitably, one of the first things I did after arriving in Seoul was locate the best trail for me to enjoy my morning runs. Luckily, in this city, that is an enormously easy task. I was staying in a guesthouse in Hongdae (홍대), which is a very young, popular, and trendy district, so I thought it may be difficult to find an uncongested path to enjoy my daily exercise. However, I learned very quickly that I was wrong. In fact, if you are staying anywhere in Seoul, it is almost guaranteed that you will find a long winding path exactly for this purpose. A week later when I moved into my dorm on campus at Hanyang University (한양대학교), I found this exact same path directly across the street from my building.

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I’ve ran this path in both directions from a couple different entrances since I’ve been here and it appears to continue throughout all of Seoul. There are 2 lanes designated for cyclists, which seems to be a relatively popular sport in this area. Alongside the bike lanes there is a lane designated for runners or walkers. I have noticed that running is nowhere as popular as road biking or group walking in Seoul. The bike lanes are constantly being utilized by Koreans using bikes for transportation, or groups of road cyclists getting a workout in. The outside lane is usually very congested with locals walking leisurely with children or walking briskly for exercise. Most of my runs have consisted of people staring at me; most likely because it’s already strange enough to see a blonde American girl in Korea, but to see a blonde American girl running in Korea is seemingly rare. However, almost as often as people staring me down, I have locals giving me large smiles and throwing thumbs up in my direction.

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As if the recreational trails weren’t enough, there are sets of outdoor exercise machines stationed every quarter mile or so. They consist of elliptical equipment, arm and leg exercise equipment, and abdominal machines.  The most amazing part about this equipment is that it all remains undamaged or tampered with, which would almost never be the case in the United States. I frequently see people taking a break from their walks to spend a few moments on the different machines as they go along their route. In addition to the exercise equipment, you can find recreational courts of many different sorts along the path as well, such as basketball, badminton, and soccer tennis courts, and even bike, skateboard, or roller blade parks. The soccer tennis court is almost always packed with groups of men playing loud and active games that are very entertaining to stop and watch.

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I can’t forget to mention the amazing view that this trail has to offer. Separating either direction of the paths is a beautiful creek that has flowing water along stones and dispersed walkways made of cement blocks. The water seems to have a very slow current which leaves the water looking strikingly glassy at all times. If you cross over the path, you can find the exact same activity path leading in the opposite direction. So far this trail has been one of my most rewarding finds in Seoul, because it links me to one of my most valued hobbies. For those that are every visiting Seoul, don’t hesitate to bring your cycling shoes; there are bike rental shops everywhere! I’ll be joining the running club this week and look forward to scouting out some new grounds to run and explore on!


Article by Rachel from the U.S.A.

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