Olympians hail "incredible experience" of running a marathon in Pyongyang

Olympic Channel were behind the scenes as Aimee Fuller and Mirjam Jaeger took part in the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

By James Pratt ·

"A real showcase of sport and how it can bring people together."

That was how Aimee Fuller described her experience of running a marathon in Pyongyang, moments after crossing the finish line on Sunday (7th April 2019).

The British Olympic snowboarder, and former freestyle skier Mirjam "Mimi" Jaeger of Switzerland, took part in the historic race in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Marathon project for Olympic Channel documentary

The pair travelled to the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon with the Olympic Channel.

As well as competing in Pyongyang, the pair of Olympians have been filming a documentary about their experience and the local sports culture.

It will air worldwide on Olympic Channel from September 2019, as DPRK and neighbours South Korea plan for a bid to host the Olympics in 2032.

Sport and unity on the Korean peninsula

The Olympic bid is the latest development in a changing relationship between DPRK and its neighbour South Korea, which hosted the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the two nations are taking steps to competed as a unified team in some sports at Tokyo 2020.

It comes after Korean athletes also competed together at PyeongChang, and marched into the Opening Ceremony together behind the Korean unification flag.

Those events were captured in another Olympic Channel documentary, We Are One. Watch it here:

Fuller's personal goal achieved in Pyongyang

For 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympic snowboarder Fuller, the run in Pyongyang was her first marathon.

She finished the amateur category in a time of 4 hours, 35 minutes, and 34 seconds.

The 27-year-old had also been teasing her participation in the event, and the Olympic Channel project, on social media in the lead-up to the race.

And the PyeongChang 2018 slopestyle finallist spoke to Olympic Channel about her feelings immediately after crossing the finish line in front of 50,000 spectators at the Kim Il Sung Stadium, where the race had also started.

"First ever marathon mission is complete." she told us after completing the 42.2km course.

"This stadium is absolutely next level, the support has been insane." - Aimee Fuller to Olympic Channel

Fuller also told Reuters, “It felt as if we were on a world stage competition. It was like the Olympics in an Olympic stadium.”

Interesting project for Jaeger

World Championship and Winter X Games medallist Jaeger, who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, had hinted at her involvement in the project prior to travelling to the North of the Korean peninsula.

She ran the 10km distance in a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, and 16 seconds.

Before the trip Jaeger posted on instagram from Beijing, saying "Off to a real interesting project w/ @olympicchannel"

Behind the Pyongyang marathon

In a month where the world's top long-distance runners are in action at major events elsewhere around the globe, including the Boston marathon and London marathon, the run in Pyongyang is growing on the international calendar.

The 30th edition of the race, and sixth in which foreign runners have been able to compete, is an IAAF accredited race.

Held every April, the marathon is one of the largest annual sporting events in the country.

Runner crosses finish line of 30th Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea
Runners take part in the 30th Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in Pyongyang (Reuters)

The full Pyongyang marathon documentary will air on Olympic Channel from September 2019, online, on apps for mobile, tablet and connected tv's, and linear channels around the world.