After a few months of long distance running along the Esplanade walk / bike path in Hervey Bay, 15+ km hill runs on the Christensen St Hills and several 70 lap stints of the Damon Park stairs (5180 steps per session) my friend Emma and I finally achieved our goal – to run and complete the Great Wall Marathon of China 2011 …. All 42km + 5,164 steps!!!!!
Somehow I stumbled across the great Wall Marathon event online and right away I had a deep feeling I just had to achieve this, therefore I immediately proceeded to make this exciting, adventurous & challenging goal a reality!
This marathon is described my many running magazines, promotional advertisements, sports websites and runners / competitors as one of the “TOUGHEST” ever …. I thought, What perfect conditions for our first ever competitive marathon!!!
Two days before the marathon we went for an orientation day, had a look around and climbed the 3.5km section of wall steps that we would be completing twice during the actual marathon. The following day I was alittle embarrased and asked several other participants, “Are your legs sore?” and everyone said YES!
OMG we had to go into this marathon with aching leg muscles and severe sleep depravation, not the best way to take on a task such as this!!!
We had a 2.30am wake up call to climb on a bus for a 2hour trip to Yin Yang Square for the start of the race. The temperature was so cold!!! They had performers and loud music so we all joined in an amusing aerobics / dance routine and soon warmed up ready for the start of the race. Dencorub, sun cream, hat, hydration pack, knee strapped, camera, snacks TICK … and after a countdown we were off at 7.30am on the dot!
It turned into such a beautiful clear blue day being very hot at lunch especially for the second phase of the stairs! It was sensational to be out of the thick Beijing smog and able to breathe clear mountain air!
What a hard slog it was!
We both had knees troubles and been to see physio’s during our training. I have PFPS (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) which with some strapping my knee didn’t hurt and tracked correct for the whole race. Emma’s sore knee played up but she pushed through the pain.
At the 36km mark we had 8km to go the first 3km being roughly 2,600 stairs again in the opposite direction then a 5km run home down a hill which we had climbed to begin the race. When I arrived back to the wall stairs, Emma decided to push ahead and after she went I literally hit a wall! OMG they were so exhausting with more up then down this time.
The extreme heat, not knowing if I had consumed enough calories or water also played on my mind as I was feeling a little nauseous and delirious.
But there was no way I was stopping!!!!
Just keeping going … one step after another, I told myself in my head (the same thing I said many times when climbing to Base Camp Mt Everest in Oct last year).
As I continued on the wall it appeared most others were it this same condition!!
After conquering the last few steps I found a second wind and ran the last five km home!
What a fantastic feeling to finally achieve that current goal after months of preparation plus not getting sick in China or an injury during training or on the day!
My personal time was 6:39:09 mins and Emma came in at 6:15:23 mins.
My Rank Information: Women 35-39 years
Rank category 20 of 34
Rank sex 109 of 202
Rank overall 391 of 582
The Australian company we booked through Travelling Fit (the Marathon Package Experts) were extremely professional and helpful with representative Paul Clements coming on the tour and handling all queries with ease then completing the marathon with us being his first also! They also supplied our Amazing shirts for the day … you could easily recognise the 200 Aussies in the race to cheer them on!!!
At the after party I also had the pleasure to meet and had a chat with Henrik Brandt from Denmark. He has completed all 12 Great Wall Marathons from when they first started and has the medals to prove it!!! He told me he would like to do at least 25!
Now, one must remember I’m not an elite athlete; I’m just a girl with a passion for adventure and life, so anyone can do these challenges if you put your mind to it!!!
It not about fast times, it’s about setting a goal, getting out of your comfort zone, working hard and completing the task no matter what!!!!
You will meet like minded people, build self confidence, feel fit and healthy, proud of yourself and learn to love yourself …because if you don’t no one else will!!!
Good Luck, Go Hard and Reap the Rewards!!!
A big thank you to the organisers and volunteers for doing such a SENSATIONAL job!!!!
Plus a big and huge thank you to my friend Emma for commiting to this also and being an awesome training patner, without her support this may not have been possible!!!
This Sunday on the 29th of May I have to back up with a 30km trail run in Brisbane!
Hmmmm what next! Great Wall Marathon videos here!