Even though we were only going to be able to get about 4 hours sleep, I kept waking up, not even really tired thinking that we had to have overslept. We ended up receiving a wake up call from the front desk around 4:45 in the morning, at which point we thought we might as well just get up.
We got dressed and then headed to the lobby, hoping to meet up with other people form our group since we weren’t really sure what we should be doing. There was a group in the lobby and we got a chance to meet up with Leroy, the organizer. We found out that we did in fact need to make sure that we had all our luggage (or at least everything we would need through the marathon) as we would be staying at a hotel closer to the wall for the next two days.
|Outside our hotel|
Breakfast was a buffet and I had a ton of food. Eggs, sausage, even some noodles and rice. Pastries and coffee. I really tried to not overdo it, but I was pretty hungry. The buses got loaded up and we were off to Jixian for the adventure of the day, which was the inspection of the course, specifically about a 2 mile section of the wall that all the runners would be tackling on race day. The drive to the start of the marathon is much further than I expected. About an hour in, we stop to use the toilets (which honestly is porcelain bowls on the floor – no actual “toilet”) and stop at the convenience store to get something to drink. Had I known it would be the only place I’d find all day where I could buy a Coke Zero, I’d have picked up more than one. Get back in the bus for another 90 minutes.
|Driving through Beijing|
Finally arrive and walked to the Yin & Yang square where we will get the briefing on the race. We were given a pretty detailed introduction to the race and the course. Even given demonstrations of the the starting and finishing areas.
|First view of the wall|
|Section of the wall we wouldn't be running but still looked neat|
|Outside Yin Yang Square|
|Walking to Yin Yang Square|
|Yin Yang Square (Start/Finish area)|
|Section of the wall we would be running|
|Hole in the floor toilets|
Then we were bussed up the first 5k of the course to the section of the wall that we would be running. Obviously another thing I’ve been in denial about. The stairs were crazy!!! The first set were pretty organized and spaced evenly. The further into the wall we got the more insane the steps seemed to get. Sometimes they were tall and steep, other times they were long and shallow. There were narrow sections of the course where there really weren’t even any stairs at all. Areas where using the handrail seemed to be a necessity.
(Warning... a TON of pictures taken here. All pictures are from sections of the course. Full marathon runners run the section of wall TWICE, once in each direction)
|Statue at base of the wall entrance|
|L and Me|
|View of the Yin Yang Square from the top of the Goat Trail|
|See the white specks? Those are people. And yes... that IS the course|
Normally I really wouldn’t be too impressed with doing a course preview. I really don’t like knowing what I’m going to be seeing during the race, to me it makes the race last longer and I like to be surprised during the race. However, with the crazy tough terrain that we would be up against, it was a great opportunity to actually get some pictures taken. No way am I going to be able to safely get pictures taken during this part of the course without falling or hurting myself!
Walking the course takes FOREVER. Literally close to two hours. Partly because of the sheer number of people and also because everyone was stopping to take pictures. After the top section of the wall, there is a section of the course that is called the “goat trail.” This part of the course seemed tough going down, but the lucky people doing the marathon will also have to do this entire section in reverse. I believe this is the part where I’ll be crying and on my hands and knees.
Finally get down to the bottom where we have a lunch waiting for us. Turkey sandwiches and a banana. Grab some bottled water and then check out some of the goods from the locals, although there isn’t anything I find of interest.
Take the bus back to the hotel. Check in is a disaster. Basically the guide collected all our passports in a plastic bag, and then buses upon buses of us enter the lobby at the same time. Luckily I was one of the first people assigned a room. Take the elevator up (10th floor) and lay down on the bed to rest.
Next thing I know L is saying “it’s after 7:30!” Laying down for a minute had lasted more than 4 hours. Oops. We go back to the lobby to collect our passports only now our guide has them on the third floor. We were thinking dinner wasn’t included today, so we go outside to walk the neighborhood to find somewhere to eat. It is terrifying. We walk only a few blocks before deciding to turn around and come back.
After dinner, headed back to the room. It’s a nice room but the thermostat doesn’t seem to work and it is a lot warmer than I am comfortable with, about 25 degrees Celsius, whatever that figures out to. Did a little reading, and surprisingly felt pretty tired, even AFTER the long nap I’d had earlier. Ended up going to bed pretty early.