Foreign runners welcome despite N Korea's warnings

The IAAF Mangyongdae Prize Marathon has attracted a sizeable number of international runners in recent years. Credit: REUTERS/KCNA

A large contingent of international marathon runners are expected to be welcomed in North Korea despite the safety warnings to foreign embassy staff in the country.

Competitors from Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia are expected to join 600 North Koreans in Friday's race, the North's state news agency has said.

The annual Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, now in its 26th year, is recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The race is held as part of celebrations for the birthday of the North's founding hero Kim Il Sung, which falls on Saturday and will be marked by a big military parade.