Foothill Flyers Race Reviews
Last update February 24, 2018

Great Wall Marathon / Half/8.5K

4th Sunday in May, Beijing, China

App, itinerary and info click on Great Wall above.

This is a fantastic way to see and experience China and the opportunity to run on the Great Wall and a very low cost. See Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City just 10 minutes from your hotel. The packages start at $1750pp double occupancy for 6 days on up for 15 days with optional tours to Xian to see the Terricotta Warrior excavation, Shanghai or Yangtze River Cruise.

Diana Fredlund sez:

The GWM wa s a great experience, but it was very tough. We visited the Wall 2 days before the race on a trip billed as sightseeing that turned into a trial run on the Wall portion of the marathon. (Sightseeing? We left at 4 am for a 3-hour bus ride with 200+ people (20 some busses in a caravan) and ran/walked 1800 steps over a wall, had a box lunch and returned to Beijing--just a leisurely sightseeing trip?) The experience changed some people's minds about doing the full and or half marathon.

On the day of the race, we left the hotel at 3 am for the same 3-hour trip. (The pit stops were quite an experience.) The start and finish for the race were in the Village Square with bleachers around 3 sides and a makeshift stage for the "dignitaries" for the opening ceremonies. There were speeches by several Chinese representatives of the town and the Danish Federation that sponsored the race (with interpreters for us foreigners who didn't speak the language.)

The race started with a 5K uphill, paved, winding road past small farms and homes. I, of course, was the last of the full marathoners to reach the Wall (never fear, Diana's in the rear), but the scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed the people and animals (goats, dogs, chickens) along the route up. The weather was clear, not so hot and beautiful blue sky--you could see forever! The birds were calling me "Cuckoo, Cuckoo". The first trip over the Wall was not so bad as my adrenaline was flowing and the excitement of being on the Great Wall was keeping my mind off the 1800 steps. Since I'm a "walker" the pace was normal for me.

Then came the flat--20 miles of dirt roads and streets through several small villages, lined with people doing their Saturday shopping and staring at the crazy people running through their streets. Many called "Halloe" and kids high-fived, lots of smiles and giggles when I tried the one Chinese word I knew. One even asked for my autograph (only charged him $1).

The course was very flat, dusty and hot. There were frequent and well-stocked aid stations and friendly workers to chat with as we passed. The second time over the Wall was in the opposite direction, which meant long, very steep, winding, steps facing us after 21 miles. I met Tom O'Hara on the way up the very steep, long, winding steps and we huffed and puffed our way over the rest of the wall finishing together. We planned it right--we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the wall without other runners cluttering our view. And we had the aid stations all to ourselves and the workers were extra friendly (probably because they could go home soon), except for the one who was stretched out on a gurney sound asleep.

The last 5K was the (now) downhill paved road back to the Village Square, which was anticlimactic after the rest of the race. Tom and I crossed the finish together--I was (and probably never will be again) so happy to see the finish line, all dusty, hot, sunburned and with a big smile!


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