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Monday, 17 December, 2018

New frontier: Richard Dunwoody to take on marathon challenge in North Korea

Richard Dunwoody: will run a marathon in North Korea on April 8
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After hiking to the South Pole in 2008, marching 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours in 2009 and walking 2,000 miles across Japan last year, something as simple as running 26.2 miles in a few hours might sound like Richard Dunwoody's tamest challenge yet.

However, there's nothing tame about running a marathon where Dunwoody is going – North Korea, the nuclear-armed hermit kingdom whose sabre rattling with neighbours and the US has unsettled the region and beyond. 

"I’ve never been to North Korea before and I want to see what it’s like," said Dunwoody when asked why he had decided to target the Pyongyang marathon instead of something nearer to home.

Now 54, Dunwoody has very different expectations to when setting his personal best of three hours ten minutes in 2002. He would like to break four hours, but is more interested in raising as much money as he can for the Injured Jockeys' Fund and the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. His target is £2,500.

"The training takes up a lot of time. You have to train for it to have a chance of getting round so I’ve trained quite a bit for it – I’ve been running reasonable distances and have done four runs in that 18-20 mile bracket, so I’m hoping it’s been enough," he said.

"I’ve done four marathons before, but a very long time ago. The last one was Dublin in 2004. 

"My PB was just over three hours in 2002 but that’s a while back and at my age I’d like to scrape round in under four hours."

There is an additional motive for this target time, as Dunwoody – who flies to Beijing on Wednesday and onto Pyongyang on Saturday for an 8.30am start on Sunday – revealed.

"Basically it finishes in a stadium and they say it’s full of 50,000 people," he said. "If you complete in less than four and a half hours you finish in the stadium and that’s what I’d like to do. You start in the stadium with a huge crowd as you depart and it’s 26.2 miles through the city."

You can support the IJF, Ebony Horse Club and Richard's efforts here:

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I’ve never been to North Korea before and I want to see what it’s like
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