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.
|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.
|And yes, it is that steep, I'm using my hands on the step to keep from falling!|
|Stunning views, killer run or hike!|
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.
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.
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|