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Yes Oui Si - Ye --> Dui
No Photos 16th May 2014 - 18th May 2014 - Maple Leaf China
Mission: Accomplished

Great Wall Half Marathon conquered! Last weekend, we took the train up to Beijing, and then the next morning (3:30 am, way too early), boarded a bus for the Great Wall.
It was pretty cold when we got there - the sun had just come up and it was windy, but we had 2 hours to hang around waiting for our start time.
Finally, they started the waves. Our co-worker Marina started in the first wave, then half an hour later, we finally got the gun!
The course started with a 5km uphill jog through some local villages. Ashley took off ahead of us, and Jessica and I soon lost Amber as we kept up a steady jog. We passed a bunch of people who had tried to run hard at the start and were already getting tired. We were actually happy about the uphill - from what we'd seen on the map online, we thought that the full 9km to start would be stairs on the Great Wall!
Most of the competitors had gotten a tour of the course the day before, but we were stuck at work until the last minute, so we went into it blind.
Then came the wall. They say that the wall was designed to make it as difficult as possible for invaders to make any headway, and we could see why. The stairs vary in height, so that one step may only be a few inches high, and the next up to your knee. There's also steep sections of slick flat rocks - it's been modernized with cement that has little footholds in it, but still pretty scary. The wall goes up and down, and up and down, so that you finally make it to the top of one section, just to go right back down again. But the views were amazing - there were frequent bottlenecks at narrow sections, or when we went through guard towers, so we had quite a few chances to stop and look around.
After a windy goat track descent back into the valley, we looped around the start point on an old stone wall, and we were off again onto the road section.
This part of the route was mainly on dirt roads that wove through a bunch of Chinese villages. There were tons of locals and kids who came out to cheer us on - the kids were having a blast high-fiving each runner as they passed, or helping to hand out bottles of water and bananas.
By this point, we'd reached kilometer 12 or so, and we were getting pretty tired. Jess and I still ran as much as we could, but we had to walk every once in a while to catch our breath. We counted down the kilometers as we ran - finally, at km17, we reached the end of the loop and got to head back towards the finish line!
I was exhausted when we crossed the finish, but it felt great to get a finisher's medal and see our time - 3hours 14 minutes to run 21kms in the Great Wall Marathon!
Mission accomplished - now my knees and muscles get to take a break until the next challenge :)

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