On May 15th a large group of WOOT'rs were able to go to China and race in the Conquer the Wall Marathon. Here are Ms. Boom's suggestions, recommendations and information for those traveling from Okinawa.
The good: The course was gorgeous and challenging. Most of it is run on unrestored parts of the Great Wall, which is very great and goes for about 5500 miles. Distances of race entry were 5 or 10Km, half and full marathon. Race registration and tour packages are found on www.conquerthewallmarathon.com. We saw parts of China that were untouched and seemed pristine. The course felt like trail, as much of the course was either large steep, stairs or steep climbs where the Wall had crumbled away. It was so much fun to race with our training partners and friends. The course is out and back and we crossed each other's paths multiple times through the race. We encouraged and and smiled at seeing each other out there. Truly a WOOT style race.
The bad: The race organization was very lacking (sorry!). From the airport pickup at Beijing, where we had to hunt down the driver by asking random people standing around if he was there to pick up marathon runners. To the morning of the race, where the bus ride to the start is about 3 hours with no stops and no toilets. The driver will not let you off the bus. Prepare with a sanitary pad or more for accidents! I was in so much pain and had to stand and clench my legs together. I do not recommend the spectator package, which is just a bus pass to travel with the racers. This means the spectator has to get on the bus with the racers at 3:00 AM and stay there until the racer is done without food, drink or a place to sit except for on the bus. There is no way to see the racers on the course unless your spectator can hike a hard mile up to the Great Wall portion. Not great for small children or older adults not used to hiking. The after party was also a bust, which we didn't attend but heard from other folks who did attend.
Also, one thing on traveling to China: their culture is much different from Japan. Our bus driver smoked on the ride home from the race and did not care what anyone thought. A man tried to hustle us at the airport. People have a different sense of personal space, compared with Japan. Just be prepared to accept that you are in their space and enjoy!
The confusing: There are two different races: Conquer the Wall and The Great Wall. We ran the race from www.conquerthewallmarathon.com. The pictures and information found on the website is confusing. The course listed, some of the pictures and race results are different from what we ran in 2016. The course we conquered was the inaugural running and designed by a company out of Colorado. There was an in depth course booklet emailed out that described each leg of the race and we tried to train to that. But the course kept changing up to the day before the race due to permits being rejected at the last minute.
It was a fantastic, crazy adventure. We spent only 3 days there and stayed continually on the move, seeing new sights, running the race and enjoying the company of our WOOT family and friends.
To commemorate conquering the Wall the WOOT Silver Dragon Charm can be added to your charm bracelet or necklace.
Please ask any questions and we'll help as best as we can. Woot Woot!!