A Great Day Out
A Great Day Out on the Great Wall
Ross Lutsch on his time running 42.2 km in the great wall marathon
The Great Wall Marathon is an annual event held on sections of the Great Wall of China. It involved a full marathon, a half marathon, as well as an 8.5km fun run. With over 1000m of total elevation, it is known as one of the toughest marathons in the world. *
TeamPacer Athlete, Ross Lutsch, accounts his experience on race day: from the interesting choice of beakfast, to the leg-blasting climbs and elation as he finished in 14th Position.
Words by Ross Lutsch
We had a nervous breakfast with all the other athletes, I don’t think they have ever heard of oats and bananas, they gave us funky seaweed and fruit with mayonnaise on it, mmm breakfast of champions! The Chinese were in high spirits playing us jingle bells from a marching band to ease the nerves. After the official speech from the very official looking official and translations and no one really getting it I noticed my heart rate spike shortly before the gun went off from the adrenaline kicking in.
During the Race:
As much as I wanted to let loose I held back the first 6km or so until we hit the wall for the first time, start slow finish fast. Many young ones have not learnt yet, they went out at full gallop like it’s a park run. About 100 people ran ahead of me as I started the first of 2 trips over the wall of about 3km each, the wall part of the route is about 2km of very steep rolling hills with steps followed by about 1km of straight down steps 17.5% incline to be repeated again in reverse. I held back until the top of the long down stairs at about 7km and then let loose, I figured less time climbing downhill will save my legs and I was going to need it later no doubt, I flew down the stairs passing a few athletes and luckily didn’t face plant. I passed yin yang square for the first time (8km) at about 50 minutes. My legs felt good and I settled into a familiar trot about the same as my training runs. Along the road there were old Chinese ladies with cigarettes hanging from their mouths posing with some of the athletes it was hilarious, by now the streets were lined with a huge welcoming committee high fiving us all the way. Coming up to the 35km mark where we have to go up the same 1km of steps followed by the treacherous ups and downs of the wall I was running with a young tattooed guy from Sweden and the winning lady from the US, they were killing me at well below 5min pace so I let them go and stopped for a gel and easy trot to recover before going up the wall. About halfway up the wall I found both my comrades with blown out legs and crying, I did what any self respecting athlete will do and wished them luck and left them for dead. Just before the end of the wall I even spotted another runner ahead and Thomas the tour guide shouted I must be top 20. I mustered up all the courage and manage to speed up to a 5:40 pace just managing to overtake the guy ahead of me on a steep downhill and crossed the line in 14th position at 4:09 my leg spent. What an incredible adventure!
*Taken from https://great-wall-marathon.com/