Well, it is a bucket list experience and for our 25th anniversary Dianne booked us to take on the Great Wall while spending time in China. A tremendous experience. While there has been no cycling, there are certainly lots of bikes on the roads, lots of high end carbon fibre or knockoffs, who knows. In any event, if you are pondering this marathon/half marathon, it is a fantastic experience. Here is my race blog.
Race day starts at 3am with a wakeup call, so you can be on the bus for 3:30, for the 2hr+ drive from Beijing to the Wall. Breakfast in a box is not much to write home about and certainly doesnt recreate what you would have at home. No coffee was available either, a clear downside to my morning routine.
We got to yingyang square, the starting point of the race at about 5:45am, with the first wave starting at 7:30, there was a long wait in cold temps - dressed for 30 Celsius but delivering 14 at this time of the morning. Lots of good vibes, people are very jovial as this is less about your PB - impossible unless it is your first time - as it is about the sheer beauty of the Wall, the countryside and the people in the villages.
The first 5km of this run climbs 220m as you move to the base of the wall, at that point you run on the wall, which means 2,572 stairs are traversed and you climb another 70m. While this is challenging given the uneven stairs, the bottlenecks and the pounding on all parts of your body, it is truly breathtaking to take in the countryside from the watchtowers. There is no Beijing smog out here. The goat track descent into yingyang square eliminates all of that vertical very quickly.
I spent about 27mins climbing to the wall and then about 30mins on the wall. Once back to the square, you run out to local villages where the kids are out in force cheering you on. while about 4kms of this 13 seems to be on paved road, the rest is on uneven ground, back lane ways, farmer fields, all uneven.
The final run into the stadium is quite exhilarating 0 while not a large place, there was tons of support for our efforts.
My unofficial time is 2:18, something I am quite happy with give the limited expectations. I would highly recommend the race .