At some point i realized that i was never sent the race details, so night of, i packed off to the hotel at 3am as per the years previous, only to arrive by taxi and note that a total absence of buses and marathon runners. So the cab took me home where i checked my computer, and realized that instead of Beijing International Hotel, I was supposed to be at
Shenzhou Beijing International Hotel. I'm worried about missing the 3am bus, but arrive and learn that it's actually a 5am bus now. Huh.
My suspicions are confirmed when we arrive at the Jinshanling Great Wall that I'm at a totally different great wall marathon than the one I thought i was attending. (there are 2, virtually identically named runs). Ok fine, no prob. This one's smaller (200 runners instead of 400); it way more budget (only getting 1/2 as many safety pins as req'd to attach race bibs), it's almost entirely on the wall, as opposed to major chunks in farmer fields and roads).
It's also way less organized, which is no biggie except that many runners including myself missed a 6km leg of the race. So that kinda sucks and throws the results into the compost bin. So i feel little pride in being told i was 16th place out of like 70 runners. How the hell could i have run 42k of stairs in 4h20m?
The course is pretty bloody hard w/ huge staircase ascents on beautiful old crumbly chunks of the wall and slippery sandy descents on rock-ridden trails. Pbly one of the most dangerous marathons on the planet. Risk of injury is dangerously high, though at the other GWM, there's more chance of falling off a cliff to one's death. The GWM course is pbly more beautiful, but the GWCM course really gives you a pretty full on grasp of "The Wall".
Anyhow, for my 36k run, i felt pretty darn good, considering. Despite many times of looking up at stairs that disappear in perspective and thinking, "You're JOKING. FUCK RUNNING."
I crossed the finish line where hardly enough people were gathered to even notice, let alone clap. talking w/ some 1/2 marathon runners, they asked me how i felt. "Good," i shrugged. Moment later, i hopped on the early bus back, forgetting about any of the post-race activities/celebrations.
That's the scale of progress between my 1st and 2nd marathons. From a sense of I-Can-Do-It accomplishment to Whatever-Just-Another-Race nonchalance in less than a year.
And frankly, that rocks.
Photos: Yes, those are all pictures of the actual running course.