All of these pictures are a little nutso - but the whole day was nutso! The race on The Great Wall was by far the most fun and exciting race I've ever run! I'm not sure any other race will ever top it. It was SO MUCH FUN!
From the starting line- to the finish- every step was amazing.
Besides the fact that we almost DIED on the way to the race!! for real, though. We had to be up and ready to head up at 3:45AM!!! they fed us breakfast- and we checked out of our hotel and loaded onto the busses. For some reason- our bus driver decided to take a short cut to the Wall instead of following the other 20 busses full of runners! after 30 minutes of trying to maneuver up a crazy mountain pass- a farmer came chasing after us and demanded we stop! apparently the road was only for small vehicles. we were NOT a small vehicle in any way. The bus had to turn around on the skinniest little road on a cliff you've ever seen. and we were up a mountain. honestly- it got a little
terrifying. and it was pretty fun. we couldn't stop laughing.
we got to the Wall at 7- and the race started at 7:30! everybody else had already been there for over an hour. Luckily- the bathroom lines were all short by the time we arrived!
see my pal, susan, in the green? she ended up running the FULL marathon. She's awesome.
we were so excited for the race!! that's why we look slightly crazy in every picture.
and I was quite a bit terrified. Honestly- it was pretty insane to be at the Wall prepping to run a half marathon on it!! after our day walking part of the course- I was nervous. There were A LOT of stairs :)
All of China has a strange obsession with Christmas. We saw Christmas decor everywhere. And at the beginning of the race- there was a Chinese marching band playing "Jingle Bells". how funny is that?! It was so awesome.
I took a lot of pictures. All along the race route! they are all cell phone pics- and slightly blurry thanks to the sweaty hands and running legs- but they do the job of showing how much fun we had.
We were mostly worried about the first half of the race. Three miles of steep switchbacks taking us to the wall followed by several more miles of THIS!! lots and lots and lots of stairs. I was worried my legs were going to be shot before we even hit 10K.
and here's my 'crazy exhausted' face! but- honestly- I could not believe how EASY the hills and stairs were! I know I trained really well and really hard- but I think it was all of the adrenaline and excitement. We were all just so happy to be running the greatest race ever!!
Here I am in one of the towers. people kept telling us we had too much energy and were jumping up the stairs way too fast! but have I mentioned how excited we all were to be there??
the views were pretty stellar. and the weather was perfect. It was nice and cool with a slight breeze.
this guy and his son were just hanging out on the wall watching everybody go by, I think they hiked up with a lunch and camped out for the day!
this is literally the race route. Just families hanging out on their porches. And we stopped and took pictures with them all :)
check out the one girls looking at me like I'm nuts!! they were all lined up giving high fives and I couldn't resist a picture.
more of the race route!!!! can you believe we just ran through these alleyways and dirt roads in a Chinese village? pretty amazing, huh?
maybe the race felt so easy because we stopped and took so many picture breaks!!
these kids were terrified of Leanna!! I love it. It's maybe my favorite picture of the day! so so funny.
the last two miles of the race felt amazing. we were getting a little tired- so we turned up Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" and "Shake it off" on my phone and pushed ourselves hard to bring in our two fastest miles of the race :)
The finish line was a giant party. Since we had a lot of bus rides, hotel stays, and meals with so many of the other runners- we got to know quite a few of them! this is Roberto- our very stinky Italian friend. We ran into him just about everywhere we went! and he always wanted to get a picture. And he was always stinky. He had the thickest Italian accent you can imagine and was so so friendly.
It was such an incredible run. I would recommend that EVERYone run a race on The Great Wall! an experience of a lifetime for sure. and worth every day of training and every stair we climbed.
here's the winner of the whole race! He finished the full and came in just over an hour after us! we ran the half in 2:31- and if we hadn't taken so many picture breaks- we could have come in a lot faster! really- I still can't believe how fun and easy the whole thing was. If you ever want to do a half- or even a full- this is the one to do! It's full of so many distractions and muscle changes- I think it makes for a easier race than normal!
the race was the definite highlight of our vacation- but we had lots more fun the next few days! and I have plenty more pictures.