The Olympic Run is an annual event and is usually the last large race held in Taipei before summer in the city begins. Runners battle not only the seemingly fast 21k course and fiercely competitively field but also the onset of the season’s heat. Usually held at the beginning of June, the Olympic day run was held this year on June 6th and in an attempt keep things cool, the starting gun sounded at 5:30am.
The course is simple, starting in Banqiao, it heads in a straight line from the city hall in the direction of the highway, 2.5k down Xianmin Rd before making a left for 1.5k on Huanhe Rd. From here runners climb the long gradual entrance ramp to Xinbei HuanHe Expressway. The expressway, starting at kilometer 4 of the race will take runners all way to the edge of Sanchong district (kilometer 12) before turning back towards the start/finish line. At kilometer 18.5, the course finally exits the expressway and it is a flat run from here to the finish.
The expressway offers some unique views of the city and river below. This elevated perspective is normally reserved for cars traveling at a much faster pace, and runners have the opportunity to watch as the city slowly changes around them. The race is limited to 7000 participants for the 21k course and with top prizes awarding participants with 20,000 NT the field is competitive, attracting the best runners island wide.
Although fierce, the competition is not the most challenging obstacle runners will overcome. The unbearable heat and unrelenting highway running, push participants to dig deep in order to finish the race in a timely fashion. There was the presence of water trucks spraying runners as they passed or buckets of water on offer for competitors to douse themselves, and although appreciated, these luxuries may have further impeded my race time. Highway running, although appearing to be flat and fast, also carries its own challenges. Gradual, almost indistinguishable, slopes and unchanging scenery can make every kilometer seem challenging.
The race was organized and well sponsored, with mugs, bath towels and quality finishing metals for half marathoners. The heat in Taipei during June is excessive and make getting a personal best in this race unlikely, but if you are looking to kick off your summer with a challenge, look to this race to offer you just that.