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June 9, 2016

Great Wall of China Marathon – Conquer the Wall

This is the 2nd year that I am experiencing a Great Wall Marathon. Last year the race was held at Jinshangling and involves the full marathon runners running 4 loops mainly on restored section of the Great Wall . It was a tough race judging from the looks on the runners. Will it be the same this year?

This year the race moved to Zhangjiakou, a remote village on the outskirt of Beijing.  The start line is just a small patch of open ground with no facilities around. The 42 km Full Marathon and the half marathon runners start and run along a 3 km stretch of village road before returning to the start line and going up the mountain to the wall proper. The runners run 8 km on the wall doing a loop. At the end of the loop, the runners goes down the wall before going back up. HM do 1 full loop, FM 2 loops and 10 km and 5 km gets to skip the first part on the village road.7-DSC_1083

On the wall, it is mainly unrestored wall and in poor condition. There is not even a shadow of a wall with most part having broke off.1-DSC08816

8-GWC_5602Most part of the wall is so badly damaged that they are not really “runnable”. There were 2 sections where runners had to be diverted to the forest at the side. 6-DSC_1084

While it looks tough for the runners, I didn’t think that it was really as tough as last year’s edition as there are less steep climbs at least not the sort where one got to get down on hands and knees to climb up.3-GWC_1936

But still judging from the vast number of runners who dnf the full marathon, it was still tough notwithstanding the nice cool weather and the more “gentle” altitude.

More photos of the route in this post. Photos of the race are available here. For order, please contact the race director for details.

Singapore runners who are looking for a different race experience might want to consider this. Not only is there great view, there is also an event tee, medal and food at the end of the race for runners, something that Singapore runners can’t seem to get enough of.

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