The Great Wall Marathon & Half - #runlikehales

This was an amazing experience!  What a rush it was to run a half marathon on top of the Great Wall of China.  A bucketlist race that I never really thought we'd get to do.

(In true Christy fashion, this is long.)

Based on the fact that this is a one of a kind course/experience with thousands of stairs/steps, we set one goal for this race.
Finish together.  


The first five kilometers were a steady uphill to get to the wall entrance.  The next three kilometers were stairs of various depths and age.  The final portion of the race was throughout an amazing Chinese village that we would never have had the opportunity to tour had we not been touring via the Great Wall race.

The final 8 kilometers of the full marathon, the runners had the pleasure of reversing and going back up and over the wall a second, grueling time.

Below is the wall portion of the race via my Garmin.  It is cool to see the wall on Google Earth.  It's said you can see it from space?

Great Wall facts:  
  • It is 5500 miles long
  • It was built in sections spanning between the time of 220 BC and 1644 
  • It took 500,000+ people to build
  • There are 25,000 towers on the wall
  • When attacked the soldiers would start a fire upon the tower to alert soldiers in the other towers
  • It is only 16-26 feet tall
  • It's amazing and there are mannny more interesting facts you should Google (unless you are actually in China where Google is blocked, then you should Yahoo them)


The race day started at 2:30am, Saturday, when we got up to Face Time our sweet little B3 (it was 12:30pm, Friday, for B and Ben's sister who was watching him).  Oh my goodness did we miss him so much.  The missing part royally sucked.  Look at his cute matching race day onesie.

Considering the lingering jet lag, getting up wasn't terrible at that hour.  Our bus left the hotel at 3:30am sharp.  Here we go...

The forecast was 88 and sunny so the race director emphasized hydration and caution.  However, when we arrived at Yin & Yang, it was SO COLD and windy!  I was surprised and wondered if maybe the temperature was going to be cooler than predicted!  (My history with racing and weather is not such a good one.)

Well the mountain went from freezing cold to roasty toasty.  And fast!  That being said, my only race complaint is I wish it had started an hour+ earlier to take advantage.  The race really was steller.  It even started on time to the exact second with my Garmin.  That's sweet.

The marching band played Jingle Bells a lot.  You can't go wrong with Christmas in May [and Home Alone!!]. 

We were in waves 1 & 2 so we started with wave 2, starting at 7:40.

Ben up on the wall, freaking me out!

I am proud of Ben considering he showed up on untrained legs due to his back injury.  He never complains although I know his legs were numb and painful before we even started the race.

I don't have pictures from inside the village we ran through, but you can see it on the video below.  It was such an awesome experience seeing all of the little Chinese children and villagers along the sides cheering on the runners.

My brother is fluent in Mandarin so we could spectate his conversing with the locals.  The Chinese would make hilarious faces when this tall, skinny, white guy started to speak to them. 

James bought us all ice cream cones at mile 10-1/2 from some villagers.  LOL  That was epic running with cold ice cream.  Somehow we had missed the GU station.

What an amazing, well put on race.  The fact that I got to run it with my family made it even more amazing and memorable.  The shirts and medals are definitely ones I'll really cherish, along with the millions of photos, videos, and memories.  

Thanks Albatros Adventures for putting on an awesome race.  A once in a lifetime chance, and it rocked.

On a funny side note, I planned a China video/footage watching "party" for Sunday night (we had Papa Murphy's in the fridge and cookies), but Dallin fell asleep at like 6pm and went to bed, my other brother never came over, and Ben tried to participate but got a headache from all of the motion.  The kid and dog even slept.

But I assure you, I HAD A PARTY.


-My brother has blogged about some of China here.
-My sister just started a blog here, and also has started reviewing races via YouTube.

Watch the race video below, or link listed here:

I'm grateful that my family loves to capture the memories because they really do last forever.

Have a wonderful day!

Other China posts you might like:
Ni Hao!
Great Wall Marathon - Inspection Day!
China Adventures
Summer Palace, Olympic Park = China!
The China Experience


  1. Super lucky you had your own translator with you at all times too!!

  2. I've loved reading all of the recaps from your family! You Hales' know how to have fun!

  3. Ahhhh amazing recap! I never thought I would want to run this marathon (I've visited the GW as a tourist), but after reading this I may have to reconsider. Jennifer @ Run Jenny Run

  4. Amazing recap and pictures! What an incredible experience.

  5. wow, that's soo amazing!!!! Love all your shirts!!!

  6. Oh wow wow wow wow wow wow!!! What an amazing race! I loved ALL of your pictures so much. That is seriously so cool you guys did that! I love that you bought ice cream mid-race and my husband totally would have climbed up on the wall and freaked me out too, lol!