I landed in Beijing incredibly excited that I would soon be running on the Great Wall of China!
The lead up to race day was amazing – The Travelling Fit group of 80 or so runners and supporters made the trip so so special. There is something to be said about going to another country with a “bunch of strangers’ only to feel as though you’ve been on holiday with a bunch of friends by the end of it! We had great tours to Forbidden City and Tiananmen square, the Temple of Heaven, the Beijing Zoo and the Summer Palace.
I had a perception of Beijing and it was not what I expected at all. It’s a great city, so interesting with fascinating things to see everywhere!
At the course inspection which was a few days before race day, I suddenly realised what I was about to do and emotion washed over me. I was about to be on the Great Wall of China. It is so grand that you can’t help feeling empowered by it. We had the race briefing which only got me more excited, then took the leisurely drive up to the start of the Wall (knowing that on race day we would be running up this hill rather than being chauffeured in a bus). Course inspection was tough – it felt like the 4km on the wall seemed to take forever and the legs and breathing definitely were feeling it. Looking back on it, it did take forever – but stopping to take a hundred photos, selfies, doing handstands, chatting to others and basic shenanigans on the wall will do that!
Race day was completely different. I quite literally hit a wall out there – but in no way did I hit the wall.
I was doing the half marathon and took my time going up the hill – waving and high-fiving all the locals in the villages who had come out to cheer us on – making us feel like superstars. When I got to the section of the Wall I was on such a “running high” that I thought I must’ve taken a short cut as the wall did not seem as long or as tough as it did on inspection day – in fact I really didn’t want it to be over!! But it was time for the long-road section of the course and then through the back roads of the village – thank you to the great volunteers and course markings that showed us the way through this ‘in the middle of nowhere’ part of China. The looks on the local kids faces as they saw all these crazy runners come through was amazing, and their little hands held out ready to high five was something I won’t forget. The local supporters absolutely made this event!
This was a day that I can honestly say I had a smile on my face the entire time. I loved every minute of it! And then watching all the other Travelling Fit’ters cross that line with big smiles on their faces made it even better. It was that type of event!
Thank you not only for the race day smiles, but for showing me a fantastic side of China, complete with new friends and memories to last a lifetime.