January 22, 2016

5 Reasons to run the Great Wall Marathon

We are linking up with the girls from DC, Mar, Courtney and Cynthia for the Friday Five.  Please be sure to check out their blogs too.

There are many difficult marathons to run but one of the most difficult is the Great Wall Marathon outside of Beijing, China.  Having the good fortune of visiting the Great Wall in 2011, and hiking a portion, the level of difficulty for this marathon must be up there amongst the best of them.
5 rasons to run the Great Wall of China Marathon
Be sure to notice the elevation in the background!

A few tidbits about this race include an expected finish time of 1.5 times your normal marathon best. You also have to complete the course in 8 hours which sounds generous,  but not for the average runner. Training on hills and uneven ground will help you tremendously with the huge amount of elevation changes and varied terrain.  Our experience from a less than two hour hike along the wall is that every step is slightly different so you have to be aware of your footing at all times.  In fact, I cannot even fathom how you could "run" during the varied step portions of the wall.  It would be so easy to trip and fall.  However, the gorgeous scenery could more than make up for the difficult terrain.
Great Wall of China marathon
And yes, it is that steep, I'm using my hands on the step to keep from falling!
One of the most interesting parts of the course aside from the wall portion, is going through the small villages along the way.  The local people are out, and the children will cheer as you go by. Despite the challenges of the course, one of the girls in my running group is contemplating this one and I eagerly await her recap.  Running this marathon would provide you with a totally new atmosphere not to mention the opportunity to visit a fascinating country with a culture that is very different from the U.S.
Stunning views, killer run or hike!
We greatly enjoyed our brief four day stay in Beijing and listed below are five things that were favorites.

1.  The Forbidden City This is the largest of the ancient palace structures of the world situated in the heart of Beijing.  As one of the UNESCO world heritage sights, this is a must when you visit China.  Housing many emperors from the 1300's up until 1922, it was named forbidden city because ordinary people were not allowed here.



2.  The Summer Palace:  Outside the city limits of Beijing, the summer palace was constructed as a a fancy garden where royalty could relax and entertain guests.  This lovely park like setting draws many locals to the area to spend and enjoyable day in a beautiful peaceful setting.

Summer Palace
3.  The Bird's Nest  This stadium was built for the 2008 Olympic summer games and was used for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the track and field events.  Now it is used primarily for football (U.S. soccer) games but will be used again in 2022 for Olympic winter games.


4.  Temple of Heaven  This striking temple was built in 1420 to pay homage to the god of heaven and also to pray for good harvest.  Situated south of the Forbidden City, this complex has more than 90 rooms covering more area than the grounds of the Forbidden City. The grounds here are beautiful and while we only spent a few hours, it could have been days.


5.  Tienanmen Square  On  June 4, 1989, many protesters who had been at the square for up to several weeks were killed by armed troops arriving by tanks. The protesters were there to promote democracy in China.  The massive attack,  reportedly using 50 tanks and over 10,000 troops, killed an unknown number of people but possibly in the thousands.


Although this is not part of my favorite five, it was impossible to exclude several things we experienced during our visit to the parks.

Learning a new game

Tai Chi in the park

Beautiful lady in full costume. We weren't certain why she was dressed up
Is China on your travel bucket list?  Would you dare try to conquer the Great Wall Marathon with it's 8 hour cutoff time? And no, this race is not on my bucket list, but I would be happy to entertain a return trip to China!
(Pam)

42 comments:

  1. China is definitely on my travel bucket list, but I'm not sure it includes the Great Wall Marathon! I'd rather saunter my way around it :)

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    1. I think that is a great plan. However, visiting the Great Wall is a must and you want to go to the place that is not the closet access to the city. It is much less touristy.

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  2. I would say that Japan, more than China is on my bucket list. I've studied Japan so much that I just have closer ties to it. But still, China would be amazing!

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    1. It is a fascinating place and we loved our visit there. I would like to go back to the Panda preserve and to see the Terra Cotta Warriers.

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  3. I have some friends who have that on their bucket list. If I tried that, I probably wouldn't be able to enjoy the rest of my time in China (which isn't on my bucket list).

    I once walked a half in a little under 4 hours (with an injured friend; I'm slow but I'm sure I could walk one faster). But it was totally flat. I'm not even sure I could walk it in 8 hurs!

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    1. I think it would be a challenge to finish the course in 8 hours and frankly, I won't be doing it. But hiking the great wall was so much fun and I highly recommend that for people visiting Beijing

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  4. Wow, that terrain looks crazy for a marathon! China is on my bucket list but I think I'd skip the marathon part :). It looks like one of those vacations which are really active on their own anyway.

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    1. Smart response. I think the training alone would put me off, but I think the experience of the race would be fantastic. Maybe the half marathon would be a better choice!

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  5. I would love to go to China - not to run a marathon but just to visit.

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    1. It was such a fascinating place and we were surprised at the kindness of the people with our group, playing games with us in the park, one older lady gave me this back treatment and then bowed to me. It was really quite unbelievable.

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  6. Wow!! This sounds like a challenge but I think it would be worth it! So neat you had the chance to visit...love the pictures! I can't imagine running up or down anything that steep!

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    1. It would be a fun race to spectate actually, but it is not on my bucket list! I loved hiking a portion and seeing the expanse of the wall up close.

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  7. A friend of mine a few years back suggested we give this race a try sometime. I hadn't thought about it before, but after she mentioned it. It's been one of those things that I would like to do.
    The world is so crazy with American's and travel right now, not sure if China will ever happen. But if it does, I would so love to run this race!

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    1. I agree about travel Kristy, but I refuse to quit traveling. I think you could be just as much at risk at home as well as away.

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  8. Love the recommendations. I cannot imagine running a marathon on the Great Wall. It would be an amazing and once in a lifetime experience, despite the pain. ;)

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    1. I think my biggest worry would be falling with the uneven ground. However it would be a lifetime experience like no other.

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  9. Ooooh I want to go here some day! Just to go, not to run it :) That looks so tough!

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    1. I think there is plenty to keep you fit in China without running the marathon on the Great Wall. But I would definitely recommend seeing it and taking a hike

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  10. Running this would be such a challenge but probably so worth it!! Your pictures are awesome!
    kyliemcgraw.wordpress.com

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    1. thanks, It is definitely too much of a challenge for this runner.

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  11. China is most certainly on my travel bucket list, but I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to tackle the Great Wall Marathon. Granted, I have yet to run a marathon, but the Great Wall one just seems like a beast!

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    1. I think you would really enjoy hiking on the wall, but the race seems a bit much unless you want to undergo a ton of training.

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  12. Dorothy at Mile Posts ran that race this year and it seemed so intense! Definitely one to remember :)

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    1. I'm not sure how I missed that. I will go look for her recap and pass that along to my friends Becky who may be there this year!

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    2. I am green with envy! On my bucket list for sure!

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  13. Wow. This would be awesome.

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  14. I don't know if I want to run in China, but I'd sure love to see the Great Wall! My sister was there last year and she said it was amazing!

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    1. I think the Great Wall was my of my favorite things I saw in China. However, visiting the Chendu panda preserve is also on my list and if I ever get there it might supercede the Great Wall!

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  15. wpw - looks amazing!! it is highly unlikely I will run another marathon but this seems like an awesome one to conquer.

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    1. There is a half marathon option too which might me more manageable!

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  16. Wow! That marathon sounds intense. But like you said, the scenery outweighs the hard course. Great pics!

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  17. I would love to just walk on the great Wall but China is not on my places to visit anytime soon.
    Are those stairs part of the marathon course?

    Is that beautiful lady in full costume taking a selfie? -M

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    1. I'm not sure the exact course, and since the marathon only covers part of the wall, I don't know if what we hiked would be included. However, none of the wall was built with even distance steps, so the difficulty would be there. I am not sure if that lady was taking a selfie, but this was 5 years ago, so I would guess not.

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  18. Amazing! There are so many awesome races outside of the US. I love your travel adventures!
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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  19. The thought!! I mean, I can't even imagine this. I can't even handle the hills in my neighborhood. HAHA!

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  20. This race looks amazing. Love of those that would be a challenge and a truly unique all around experience.

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  21. I would love to do this race! It pops up on my Facebook feed all the time. Maybe one day!

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  22. Wow the race looks amazing and also very challenging.

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  23. That would be amazing. I don't think that particular marathon is in my future since I'm spectacularly sloooowwww but I could totally see you doing it!!

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  24. I love all your pictures & it sound like an amazing place to visit! I don't know if I would want to tackle the marathon though, although I always say there is no better way to really see an area then by running. Have a great week!! :-)

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  25. This is a total bucket list race for me. I would LOVE to do this someday!

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