Korea's best amateur marathon runner, Sim Jae-Duk

Korea’s best amateur marathon runner, Sim Jae-Duk

Here is a very inspirational story about a Korean shipyard worker whose work screwed up his lungs, so that he needed surgery to breathe better. How he responded is an amazing achievement!

Sim Jae-Duk, 44, started running after six years of nine-hour workdays inside the ships, breathing chemicals and dust through a face mask. His respiratory system was so weak that in 1993, doctors recommended surgery to help him breathe. But Mr. Sim, a determined man if there ever was one, refused an operation. “Instead of surgery, I decided to run,” he said. “I decided that, even if I died, I would die running, with my lungs full of air.” His lung capacity, measured in 2003 at 69.5 percent, now registers as normal, he said.

Despite still working five or six days a week at the shipyard—he now repairs welding machines—he runs three marathons a month; in spring and fall, as many as seven. In all, Mr. Sim has run 210 amateur marathons since 1995, and finished all but three of them under three hours. His personal best is 2:29:11, compared to the men’s professional record of 2:03:23.

Mr. Sim’s 90 victories are widely considered South Korea’s amateur best, although there is no official agency compiling amateur data. He sometimes runs a marathon on Saturday and again on Sunday, and has won six such back-to-back marathons. He excels in so-called ultrarunning endurance races, typically double the length or several times longer than the 26.2-mile marathon and often conducted on mountain trails. He has run more than 30 such races at home and abroad and won 10 of them. “I am happier running than walking,” he said in an interview at his home.

And here he is in 2006 after setting a course record in the 100-mile MMT mountain run in Virginia.

no complaints about jet lagging

no complaints about jet lagging

Sim Jae Duk, 36, only arrived in the United States on the Thursday before the run after traveling for 22 hours from his home in Korea. He was an unknown. But very early in the race, he asserted himself. He powered through the Shawl Gap aid station (8.7 miles) tied for second place and took over first place by Habron Gap (24.4 miles). From then on, Sim battled with Karl Meltzer for the lead, finally winning in 17:40:45, a new course record. Karl became only the second person to run under 18 hours when he finished in a time that would have won all previous MMT’s.