Posted in China, Trail, Travel, Trekking
June 5, 2016

The Great Wall at Zhangjiakou

Whenever people talk of visiting the Great Wall of China. they only think of the beautiful nice wall in say Badaling or the slightly more out of the way Jinshanling. In most people’s mind, it will be something like this:1-DSC00903

This was also what we encountered last year when we went to do our first official photo cover for the Great Wall Marathon. Sure it was a bloody tough climb up and down the towers but at least the grounds we were on were in good conditions.

This year, back for a second year, I expected more or less of the same but boy were we in for a big surprise. This year, the marathon moved from Jinshanling to a super ulu area known as Zhangjiakou which was actually an old village somewhere outside Beijing. To get up to the wall, we started from the foot of a hill where there was totally no facilities. So first we got to go up a trail.01-DSC_0924After about 1.5 km of huffing and puffing we finally reached another open area where apparently the locals can camp there. And that was the most easy to walk part of the whole route.

At this big open area, runners will have to turn right to go and go up a long steep part of the wall to the restored section of the wall. Did I said restored part? Yes because other than that particular restored section, the rest of the wall was unrestored like this:06-DSC08588

and this:09-DSC08631

and this:11-DSC08692

We didn’t went right because apparently that was the most challenging part of the race route involving a long climb up and then the more difficult and dangerous climb down this section.03-20160513_125438

During race day, quite a number of the runners got injured here including one who was hit by falling rocks. Some runners had to literally sit down on their butt to get down.

But the challenging aspect of the route was more than compensated by the beautiful and magnificent view of the surrounding mountains 12-DSC08677

This is M slowly easing herself down another steep slope14-DSC08729

We were just supposed to recce about 8 – 10 km of the route but the wall seems to go on and on and on.15-DSC0870104-DSC08535 05-20160513_133213_001

We took close to 5 hours to walk through the whole recce which is about 2/3 of the 10 Km route so I don’t envy the runners who will have to do this loop twice!

More about the Conquer the Wall The Great Wall Marathon here.

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