Skip to content

Great Wall Half-Marathon Part 2

May 17, 2010

Day 3: Race day!!!!

I was really worried about getting such little sleep the night before a really hard race (going to sleep at 8 PM was impossible), but I guess I had no choice. Plus, catching a cab at 3 AM to go to a half marathon and running into blackout drunk college students asking us directions was pretty amazing =).

Once we got to the meeting point, we were put on a 3 hour bus out to the race site on the great wall. I deliriously put together this yogurt mix (all natural yogurt that I found at an ex pat store WOOOOO) and attempted to relax a bit.

Strawberry yogurt, strawberries, lychees, cinnamon and hemp protein

I brought a little tub of protein powder with me….obviously had no motor skills at 2:30 AM and spilled it everywhere.

Bussin' it

As a side note: This was the first day I haven’t worn makeup this entire year. I don’t even know the last time I went without . Crazy!! Posting this picture as proof.

Staging Area

Waiting for the race to start with all of the other runners was so inspiring. I met so many random people and the energy was definitely palpable. After everyone got settled this adorable Chinese lady led us through a warm-up on the stage:

Katie and Sarah Pumpin' It'

Since I ate breakfast at 3 AM I had an extra little pre-run snack. It gave me SO much energy which I was seriously thankful for.

Fitness Bread, Homemade PB and Banana

Finally at 7:40 AM, our race began!! There were only 1800 runners and since we were sectioned off by marathon, half marathon, and personal records we were able to start running pretty quickly after the gun went off.

The Wall

Beautiful Scenery


The first few miles were pretty much all uphill on a paved road. I had trained a lot on hills so it actually felt REALLY good to work my way up. After about 2-3 miles we entered a trail that led up to the wall, which had CRAZY amounts of stairs of varying heights. There were definitely some dangerous parts where there was no chance of running (for fear of slipping and plummeting to a certain death) and because of these sections there ended up being some runner back-up along the way. Although it was odd to be forced into walking or standing, the rest was definitely welcomed and the overall camaraderie made the breaks really fun. All of the people I met and talked to were SO interesting and unique. I’ve never come across a more international group before and it made me feel so lucky to be able to take part in something that not many people get a chance to do. All in all, the uphill portion and the actual Wall were a blast and I have never felt better.

THEN came the downwards stairs. About 200 of them!! At least!! MANNNNNN those things are rough on the knees. I didn’t notice at the time, but I had been banging down on my joints for at least 30 minutes while coming down from the wall. It didn’t affect me until mile 7, when all of a sudden it felt like someone was sticking knives into my knee socket. Not good. I kept running through it, determined to get as far as possible without feeling like I was really injuring myself. I also figured that continuing was doable considering that the last 6 miles of the race were on flat road. Wrong. Slowly but surely my knees started locking up and I was running with my right leg practically STRAIGHT!!! AYYYY. I ended up having to walk 3 of the miles that snaked through a tiny countryside town. Frustrating. I could have finished the race in under 3 hours if my knees hadn’t started going nuts, but I suppose that I could have done some long term damage and nothing is worth that. Right? On the plus side it was really heartwarming to see all of the locals standing by the side of the road, cheering us on. Many of the school children acted as markers to show us where to go, and they never failed to say something encouraging as we passed by.


Overall the experience was beautiful and I’m SO happy that I did it. I can’t wait to try more races in the future, and I’m really pleased that I started out with one of the hardest races in the world (so they say). Obviously there was cause for celebration afterwards:

Katie with Eggplant Bruschetta and WINE

My Warm Goat Cheese Salad


San Li Tun Street Food

In the bag: Grilled Bread, Grilled Eggplant, Grilled Peppers

We spent the night celebrating in San Li Tun, met some VERY interesting characters including some of the actors from Shaolin Soccer (so they claimed) and then hopped back on the train the next day to get back home in time for school. The train was ridiculous, but that’s a story for another day. Home sweet home and only 5 weeks to go until sunny CA =).

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Katherine: What About Summer? permalink
    May 18, 2010 8:33 am

    this is such an amazing/insane thing to do! you must be worked right now

  2. May 18, 2010 11:44 am

    Amazing blog!!
    Great Wall run? So awesome! I remember a few years ago a friend of mine and I were looking into this as a fundraiser but unfortunately time did not allow.
    Amazing photos! so exciting!

    • May 19, 2010 5:19 pm

      Thanks so much!! Yeah it’s a pretty unique experience, if you have some time down the road I totally recommend it. Fundraising is such a great idea I wish I could have done that!

  3. May 18, 2010 5:28 pm

    oooh, i LOVE this blog, sarah! seriously, everything about it. indoctrinate me in real time, stateside, soonish. xxoo

  4. May 19, 2010 9:33 pm

    I cannot believe you did a half on the Great Wall! My mom and I only hiked it for an hour and it was intense! We went up one section where I was pretty determined that if I stopped moving and actually looked down I would go into some crazy panic attack. Just being on the wall is an amazing experience, but running on it is truly once in a life time. Congrats!

    • May 19, 2010 10:27 pm

      Thanks!!! So awesome that you hiked it with your mom! I can’t imagine a more satisfying end to my year here =). BTW seeing your picture in front of the “Chinglish” sign made me so happy. I love it!

  5. venus permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:57 pm

    Sarah, that was an incredidble determination you’ve got there to finish the run in a serious knee injury. I guessed you had banged your knees so hard on the uphills at the start of the run pacing with the rest of the pack without noticing it. It is easy to be lulled by the momentum and the energy! I missed that feeling, you know. But it was an amazing amazing experience you’ve got there. I understand the feeling being surrounded by a sea of runners with almost the same mentally and goals in life. I was so thrilled also by the food talks especially the photos! Congratulations! Now you need a lot of MSM with all the mine at the end of it to help your knees recover. you are brave to have done it t the finish! Hurray!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: