[UPI] New York marathoners marvel at clean, friendly North Korea

May 31, 2015

 

North Korean spectators watch from the stands of Kim Il Sung Stadium as runners line up at the start of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

North Korean spectators watch from the stands of Kim Il Sung Stadium as runners line up at the start of the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

[UPI]

PYONGYANG, North Korea (UPI) — For Stephen Forman, North Korea’s Mangyongdae Prize Marathon was the best course he had run in his years as an amateur athlete.

“The course itself was flat, the weather was great. As a runner I thought it was fantastic, I absolutely loved it,” said Forman in a recent interview with UPI.

Forman, an Australian national residing in New York, was one of more than 600 foreign runners who took part in the annual marathon in Pyongyang – an event that was almost canceled over North Korea’s fear that foreign participants would bring in the Ebola epidemic.

The ban was lifted in early March, and runners from more than 30 countries turned out for the event, which was opened to amateur runners for the second year on April 12.

Forman and longtime friend Gary Thompson said they would go again, if given the chance. The country may be known more for human rights allegations and nuclear weapons development. But the runners said friendly people and an immaculately clean capital were the more prominent highlights of their trip.

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