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Over the weekend China welcomed hundreds of runners for the annual Great Wall Marathon. From the very start, to the the very finish of this fantastic and unique event , Joe, our running guru and Sports Tours International Rep, gives us the low down of his time exploring China and taking part in the marathon.
Arrived at the hotel and it is very spacious, clean and modern. I arrived a few hours before everyone started to arrive so I used this time to catch up on a few on emails.
I then met our customers at 5pm. As a special welcome to this wonderful city and spectacular event, I created a special welcome notice with a few basic mandarin phrases to help them during their trip away. Lots of useful tips on shops and local taxi’s were included too!
Today’s trip was excellent, very busy but what a fantastic day. The day started off at the temple of Heaven which lasted about 2 hours. Then we headed to the silk Exhibition Hall for a tour on how silk is created and put into clothing and bedding, It was interesting and everyone seemed to really enjoy it!
We then had lunch which was the delicious Peking Duck and traditional Chinese food which everyone enjoyed. We got taken to Tain Ma Men Square and had some photos taken, plus a talk regarding the history of Chinese government. The Tour then ended in the Forbidden City- which was brilliant (Personally my favourite part of the day!).
We got back to hotel around 7pm after a busy day and sat down together to enjoy some dinner.
Today we went to the breath-taking Great Wall. We had the chance to see the start/finish and get a taste of what was to come. Today also gave us the chance to listen to the race brief which prepared us for race day and the hot weather. The walk was just 4k. We had a great time and I took some excellent photos of marathon staff plus the Great Wall.
I spoke to a few clients regarding the big day. We have a few nervous runners which is very understandable as some are first timers too! I gave them advice from my personal previous running events and helped and guided where I can.
Today was a visit to Ming Tomb which was excellent! We had a tour by our guide but the rest of the time was spent at our own leisure. I spent a lot of the time catching up with clients, getting their thoughts on race day, and how they are enjoying their trip. We had a great Chinese lunch and then made our way back to the hotel.
Tomorrow is the big day! I have ensured everyone knows the wake up call time.
The day started with a very early 2.30am wake up call. The hotel provided us with a breakfast, and a few people provided their own as they weren’t too sure what to expect. I’d suggest bringing your own breakfast as people know their own nutrition needs before a big event. We arrived about 6am so had plenty of time before the marathon started. The marathon finished and started in Ying Yang Square.
The square provided food, drinks (free water), viewing stage, medical centre and toilets. The marathon was broken up into 4 waves (half and Full) followed by the fun runners.
The marathon started at 7.30 precisely and every 10 minutes for each wave. I was in wave 4. The marathon started running up a very long hill (about 5km). By then the sun was up and was probably about 20 degrees. There were water stations about every 4k and there was certainly enough for everyone.
Once you reach the top you start on the Great Wall. The wall itself is amazing and welcomes you with it’s breath-taking views. It is extremely steep and each runner really needs to be careful and look out for each other. We did about 5k around the wall and came down ready to head into the village which was where the majority of the remaining marathon was done. We spent another 3k on the main road towards the village. We then left the road and started towards the village which was a lot of fun, many of the local children and families came out to support us which was nice. I took a few pictures to show you what it was like.
We made another trip up another very steep hill and back round some smaller villages. We started to run back to the Wall to do our return. Once again plenty of water was on hand and by then the sun was up and I think it was about 30 degrees. We made our final depart back to the wall to complete our return, this was the hardest as we had to climb what we had already come down! This was about 30km into the marathon. The climb up the wall was probably the hardest and most challenging thing I have ever done. Other runners support was amazing plus you get plenty of water. Once you got back up to the top there as medical staff to look after you if any assistance was needed.
Once you have finished running off the wall you make your way back down the hill you started running up back to Ying Yang square (finish area). You make your way back into Ying Yang square where I happily saw the finish area. Another great thing is that every runner gets his name read out when out when you finish which was a great thing to have. The medal was a big one and the support at the end was brilliant!
I collected my bag and took a shower which was provided. There were buses back to the hotel where myself and the Sports Tours clients enjoyed a well deserved rest!
Overall the Great Wall Marathon was excellently organised, support was fantastic and the main thing is that you get provided with more water than you need. It is a fantastic event and I can see it getting bigger and bigger!
• Experience in running a marathon – This event is a tough one, the heat and the climbs make this challenging.
• The temperature got to 34 degrees – anyone sensitive to the sun may be best to look at the Half Marathon event.
• Bring high level sun cream (factor 50) – t-shirt, hat and running bag or belt (Much better to carry gels, salt tablets and phone for emergency).
• Staying hydrated the day before. Ensure you drink plenty of water on the route.
The Great Wall Marathon is an excellent and well-organised event. The whole operation really does put a lot of effort and support into this event. The whole event holds 2000 runners plus families and friends and it caters for everyone. I met a lot of people just doing the 5k that travelled from Canada/USA but wanted also wanted the package to know they will get to see most of Beijing which is great.
I think the whole week has been brilliant and we have seen and done so much, it has been none stop and very little own time but looking back most of the clients loved that. I was at the Celebration dinner last night with our clients and the feedback I asked was excellent! The celebration dinner was also fantastic, It was held in a banquet hall and the food was a buffet style dinner. The event company did a speech and showed a video they made from the marathon, one of our clients Cher was in this and she also made her own (to be added very soon!)
I think this event will go from strength to strength as most people have finished the majors and are looking for a new adventure; this is perfect for them!
My overall trip has been excellent and I would highly recommend this event to anyone.
Check out Jo’s photos here >>>
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