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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Dunwoody recounts experience of North Korean charity run in snow flurries

Richard Dunwoody makes his way to the finish line in just under four hours
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It is not often former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody puts his feet up, but that is what he will be doing on Sunday to watch the London Marathon.

With soaring temperatures in London, Dunwoody will be contrasting his own experiences this month in North Korea, where he ran that country's equivalent event in snow flurries!

There will be no comparison between the two events as the Korean version that was the Pyongyang marathon featured 1,500 runners, with around a third made up of overseas participants, including Dunwoody, who was raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, London.

Dunwoody, reflecting on his trip on Friday, reported that the marathon started and finished in a 40,000 seater stadium, with the country's sports minister making a speech and the crowd supplemented by clapping machines to send them on their way.

"There wasn't a huge crowd and it was quiet out in the country, apart from the soldiers watching us to make sure we didn't run off the course," he said.

"Two of us were in need of a toilet break out there but both agreed it wouldn't be a good idea to break off and head behind a tree just in case, and so waited until we got back into the city."

Dunwoody achieved his aim of dipping under four hours, but only just, coming in with eight seconds to spare, although he reckoned a blustery day that blew over directional cones sent runners on a slightly longer route around a triumphal arch.

"It was an amazing experience and unbelievably I randomly met a guy from Belfast halfway round – Ciaran O'Hare from the Omagh Road, who asked me what AP [McCoy] was up to now."

Dunwoody, who spent ten days in North Korea on an escorted tour of 20 visitors arranged by Beijing company Koryo, added: "If you didn't go on organised trips you weren't allowed out of the hotel, which was on a lovely beach on the east side of the country – we weren't allowed onto the beach!"

Dunwoody still got to see the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum of the country's founder Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il.

Asked about future plans, Dunwoody, 54, said: "There was a German/American couple on the tour who have visited 193 out of the 196 countries in the world. It got me thinking . . . I've visited somewhere in the 90s."

On all his trips – last year he walked 2,000 miles the length of Japan – the aim is to raise money for charity, and he is closing in on his target from the marathon.

You can support the IJF, Ebony Horse Club and his efforts here:


Dunwoody will be contrasting his own experiences this month in North Korea where he ran that country's equivalent event in snow flurries
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