Recaps are popular in January, as we look over what we’ve done over the last year, reflect, and plan what the coming year has in store. 2014 was a big year for me, I ran my first half marathon (competitively) in March 2014 and instantly fell in love. While I didn’t have time to run every race in Taiwan I did make quite a few. Here’s my list of the best (of what I’ve run) Taiwan 2014.
Most beautiful – Toroko Gorge half marathon- this course is famous in Taiwan for being one of incredible scenery. As there are very few roads running through Toroko National Park, the roads are closed only once a year for this marathon. As it has increased in popularity, organizers have had to shorten registration times or allow entry only by lottery. If you can get a spot it is one of the most interesting places you can run in Taiwan.
Best Trail – Otterbox Action Asia – This course was excellent as far as technicality was concerned. There was a variety of terrain, not too many sections of road and it was just a fun run in general. The volunteers were helpful, course director was involved and the organizers had their own camera crew who got some great shots of runners.
Best Crowds – Wan Jin Shi – This marathon is run through 3 coastal cities, Wan Li, Jin Shan, and Shi Men and has one of the best crowds I’ve seen all year. It seems that everyone came out to cheer on the runners. Besides the coastal scenery, there were also dancers, drummers and crowds of fans along the course to help anyone struggling through this race, I definitely recommend giving it a try.
Best Organization – This was a difficult category and in the end I couldn’t come up with one that really stood out from the rest, however, there are some honorable mentions. KL Standard Chartered was not in Taiwan but it was well marked, the aid stations were well stocked and race pack pick up surprisingly easy for a race of that size. The runners did merge for the last leg which seemed a little chaotic. WanJinShi Marathon was also well organized providing no-fuss race package pick up, rides from the city, a well marked, well organized course, but the end had runners merging with runners of different distances and the gun start was a bit confusing, without any separation according to estimated finishing time.
Most Challenging – ShiMen Reservoir Half Marathon – This course offers runners an incline of 350m in the first 4kms, after which the elevation continues to fluctuate between 300-400m running between the mountains and the damn. At 9km runners turn around and head back through the fluctuating elevation towards the start of the course. Once they reach the bottom of the hill the final 3km will be run around the lake at the bottom. I think the most challenging part of this course would be the constant uphill and downhill followed by a relatively flat stretch of 3km which seems to take every ounce of energy to complete.