In South Korea all you need for running is your body and spirit according to Kim Byong Guk who runs a solo one and half hours without music or other distractions near his home in Tunis, Tunisia. In a place such as Tunis runners must be able to handle all sorts of conditions. For Kim Byong Guk the light rain provides a great running atmosphere although he is fueled best by internal emotional turmoil which he whimsically names "mental weather".
The 36 year old originally from Wonju, South Korea is now a Maghreb Area Studies Researcher and has been running since 1988. He has no particular running superstitions or pre-run routines; he is just content in his running shorts and shoes. Other Tunisians may eat ginseng before running and Kim Byong Guk says women runners are very rare but he keeps a fairly open mind toward foreign runners.
Runners are in search of satisfaction and each may find it their separate ways. However this attitude is not always shared with the people of his town. "Sometimes while running some car drivers insult me because I'm Asian. It makes me angry" he admits. Yet, this does not stop him from running two to three times a week and participating in many organized races. Tunis supports organized races mostly consisting of 20 kilometers races. Although there are no novelty or charity races organized in Tunis, water, sugar dried fruit and a T-shirt are all complimentary during regular races.
Kim Byong Guk does not belong to a running club and does not read any running magazines, although he would like to subscribe to an ultrarunning magazine, he does however run many marathons and not always near his home. He has completed the "Paris marathon" twice and the "Djanet desert marathon" once along with the "Tunis marathon" several times. His fasteset marathon finish was the "Paris marathon" with a time under four hours.
When asked to compare his hometown races with races abroad Kim Byong Guk found little difference. The "Djanet marathon" (January) was his all time favorite marathon. So the next time you are in Tunis just bring your shoes, your shorts and your spirit.
Run The Planet would like to thank Kim Byong Guk from South Korea for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.