Run day Monday: Namsan

Namsan hill run: 7.5km, 250m elevation

Map courtesy of Route 751712.

If you’re visiting Seoul, you’re definitely visiting Namsan at some point, so what better way to see it than at a challenging sprint?

This run is another favourite of the running group. It’s the only run we have fixed as a once-a-month regular feature in the calendar, and attendance is consistently high, with many people, local and visitors, attracted by the park’s renowned beauty. Our route starts at the National Theatre and, as with last month’s post, there are two options depending on how much challenge you can chew.

National Theatre

National Theatre

By subway, the most convenient stop is Dangguk University station on line 3. Come out of exit 6, turn left through the park, and follow the road up the hill for about 15 minutes. You’ll pass a baseball court, some tennis courts and one of the Namsan road tunnels before you see the National Theatre clearly signposted to the right. The road into the park is closed to private vehicles and a small guard booth allows public buses and tour buses through. Come prepared with some ID and you can exchange it with the guard for a locker key for the public lockers a few metres further on. There are small changing rooms here, too, with a sink if you fancy cleaning up a bit after your run!

Option 1

N Seoul Tower in Namsan park

N Seoul Tower in Namsan park

The big star of the show is the tower at the top of the mountain (hill), so the favourite route is straight up and then down and around. It’s actually the reverse of the route on the map. The first fifteen to twenty minutes is a slow, steady slog all uphill with fantastic views over Haebangchon, the winding Han river, and Yeoido to your left. N Seoul Tower at the peak of the hill looms above you as you near the top.

About 100 metres from the peak of the mountain, just at the end of the bus parking area, take a left and you’ll be whizzing down hill for the next 1500 metres. The path is shared with pedestrians and cyclists and the occasional passing bus, so there’s plenty of room to let yourself go and enjoy some speed. At the bottom of the hill you emerge onto the road again. Take a right, and keep following the road around to the right at it hugs the base of the hill. Within a kilometre you’ll pass through a short road tunnel, bear right again, go under the cable car lines and you’ll see a narrow pedestrian path going up and back into the park itself.

From here, you’re a little under 3.5km from the theatre, but make sure you save some juice for this last stretch. It’s all up and down hill, not to the same extent as the initial part of the run, but enough to be seriously challenging to already drained resources. On the up side, this is completely traffic free, lined with beautiful plants and babbling streams during the spring, summer and autumn, and – best of all – it has a rubberised sports surface. A welcome relief for tired knees.

Option 2

If the full on, over a mountain challenge doesn’t appeal, run the final part of the route described above. From the theatre, run up the first twenty metres, but take a right at the first pedestrian path. Run all the way along until it meets the road near the cable cars – you’ll see the barrier and small guard booth – then turn around and run back.

At just over 6.5km this is still a good introduction to hill running with a lot of up and down, but you avoid the full on rocket charge over the hill at the beginning so it makes it all more manageable!

Top tip!

For some great after-run grub, head back down to the station, cross the main road and walk past exit 2 on the other side and follow the little road to the left when it branches away from the main road. You’ll pass a famous bakery (fantastic decor, nice cakes, insipid coffee), and find a row of great Korean restaurants. My favourite is a great place that does spicy octopus bibimbap (쭈꾸미비빔밥) located near the end on the right.

What’s your favourite post-run feast?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Our Foodie Appetite
    Aug 15, 2015 @ 01:23:41

    Jeez! Look at you go! We like to hike to explore a new location, but I know running would be a great way to do it. It looks so gorgeous. There’s always so much more to see than really meets the eye. We can’t wait til our foodie adventures take us here!



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