Important suggestions on what to prepare for your participation in the Pyongyang Marathon
Pyongyang Marathon 2020 | Packing List
FEB 21 UPDATE: The Pyongyang Marathon 2020 has been officially cancelled. This is due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak and related border closure. You can find out more information here.
If you’re joining the Pyongyang Marathon 2020, make sure to have a look at the list below for recommendations on what to bring for the race day in particular. This list is largely based on on our past experiences over multiple Pyongyang Marathons since 2014 and we will be making updates particular to the 2020 event as they become available. Keep in mind many of the items that you typically prepare for your marathon run may not be readily available in Pyongyang.
For a list of other items to bring on your tour to North Korea, please see our 'Notes for Travellers', which will be sent to you upon booking.
First a note on a thing called weather
It is difficult to predict Pyongyang’s weather in April this far in advance (or at any time of the year for that matter). In previous years, the day of the Marathon has seen everything from a sunny 20°C to a very chilly 8°C (including snow!), so we recommend being prepared for any outcome. The Marathon runs over the course of the morning, so temperatures will naturally be at their lowest at the start of the race.
The marathon race fees are paid in Pyongyang directly to the race organizers and can only be done in USD cash. Please bring clean and undamaged bills.
The fees are:
5km – $50 USD
10km – $70 USD
Half Marathon – $100 USD
Full Marathon – $150 USD
There will be snacks, souvenirs and drinks (including the all important post race beer!) for sale around the stadium, so we recommend having a little bit of cash on you for after the race. You will want to carry some small denominations to make purchases from local stands. For local purchases, it is possible to use USD, EUR, or Chinese RMB - each with its own marginal advantages and disadvantages, which are explained in detail elsewhere on our blog post on which currency to use North Korea.
Obviously, but having proper running shoes is vital for a successful race! The local sports shoe, the undonghwa, is probably not the shoe you want to use if running the full marathon...
Long sweatpants/running trousers and a sweatshirt/jacket
In past years the opening ceremony of the Pyongyang Marathon has required participants to wear long trousers and long sleeves. We recommend wearing your running clothes underneath these as there will neither be much time nor space to get changed between the opening ceremony and race start. It is possible this won't be the case for the 2020 Pyongyang Marathon, but it is best to bring something along just in case.
If you are wearing running tights or leggings for the race, we would still recommend bringing a pair of long trousers to wear at the start for the opening ceremony.
Warm clothes (sweatshirt, jacket, even gloves and a hat)
For the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the time you’ll be spending in the stadium once you’ve finished the race. You’ll be able to store these clothes with your tour guides in the stadium while you run.
Rain coat or poncho
Again, the weather is unpredictable so in case of rain you’ll want to stay dry before the start and/or after the race.
Sunglasses and sunscreen
It will be a long morning spent outside and the sun might well make an appearance.
Shorts or running tights
Or whatever you prefer to run in. These should be fairly simple and not portray any large symbols, slogans or national flags. As mentioned, ideally you can wear them under your warmer clothes for the opening ceremony and quick changing after.
You will receive an official Pyongyang Marathon running shirt from the race organisers. If you prefer to run in your own shirt then please remember this should be simple and not have any large symbols, flags or slogans printed onto it. Do ensure to let your tour organiser know your running shirt size before the race.
Drinks and food for during and after the race
There will be water stations along the race course every 5 km, and they will only providing water. If you need any other specific drinks, energy gels, or similar, make sure to bring these. You won't be able to pick them up in Korea, so China is your last stop.
There will be some snack stores in and around the stadium after the race but if you need any specific snacks (energy bars, nuts, fruit) we recommend bringing these along from home.
It won’t be possible to store your personal snacks or drinks along the race course so if you like to run with anything on you, do bring some sort of running bag or belt.
Other items worth considering to bring with you...
Those are the the key items, however it might be worth bringing the following items as well just in case;
Phone armband, running belt or bag - in case there is anything you need to carry
Band aids - for any post race scratches, grazes, blisters or even chaffing
Vaseline or other anti-chafing products - for comfort during the race
Tissues or wet wipes - for toilet stops, unless you are not going to stop for *any* reason (runners know what this means)
Massage oil - if you're lucky you can get a post race massage at your hotel or one of the health complexes in Pyongyang, however do expect that these will be in demand so don't rely on them.
Pain relievers - also useful to have for travel in general, they may well earn their worth for any post race aches, discomfort or injuries
Safety pins - you'll be provided with 8 safety pins for your race bibs, though having a few extra handy just in case might help
Updated 29 May 2019.