There are 3-4 marathons in different part of the Great Wall in April and May. I have signed up with referral from friend with Sam for the one on 1st May at JinShanLing Great Wall. This Great Wall China Marathon has the route that ran the most distance on the wall. The other part of the route are from the Wall to the 2 visitor centres.
Jin ShanLing Great Wall stretches over 32 towers and the distance is not long so we are doing loops and loops on the wall.
We arrived 2 days before the actual event and with Sam's arrangement, we checked into HuBei Hotel which across the official ShenZhou Hotel.
A briefing which is delayed for more than an hour was held before the event. There are last minute changes to the route and also traffic arrangment. We are supposed to set off at 2am but was delayed to 3am because of buses not allow on highway before 3am.
Thanks to Sam who sorted out the race pack for us and we see how messy the racepack collection site is. The organizer is like running a one man show.
The bus setoff at 3.30am in morning and the journey to the start is more than 2hrs.
The race cut off is 10hrs and the original flagoff is 6am but because of the delayed in transport, it got started at 7.30am.
The whole route consisted of 5 different terrains: repaired Great Wall, unrepaired Great Wall, sandy trail, Tarmac Road and proper pavement. The tough part are some section is so steep that we may have to climb on fours. descend on these narrow and steep steps are very dangerous. The Labour day crowd makes the route more challenging as some section can only have a person to pass through.
Water support is great with one every 3 towers but only mineral water provided, no isotonic drink...there are some isotonic powder available. There are also subway and sandwiches, lollipop, bananas.
Photo opportunities are plentiful.......
I did not finish the full marathon. Only covered about 24km in 8hrs and I guess I will not have enough time to finish so I decided to stop and enjoy myself at the end points cheering for friends and other runners.
Overall, the pre and post race are very messy and not organised. I almost cannot squeeze up any bus to go back Beijing. The 2hrs before and after race add to the challenge...long bus trip are tiring. Surprisingly, the race itself went smoothly and the support is very very good compared to many other events.
I would recommend anyone who have not been to Great Wall to go for this but need to bear the messy and long bus trip to the start line...One solution is stay right at the great wall but transport back to Beijing or airport can be tricky.