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No.8: The Great Wall Marathon, China



The Great Wall Marathon, China

16th May, 2015

The Great Wall Marathon features on everyone’s bucket list and is always mentioned in any list of “the top 10 marathons in the world.”

The Great Wall Marathon is widely acknowledged as one of the toughest marathons in the world and runners from over 60 countries flock to Tianjin Province annually to test themselves over 5164 steps. Or 2582 steps if you choose the Half Marathon or Fun Run! 

Around 7km of the marathon is run on the Wall with the rest of the course taking runners along the river valley and through local villages, where you are cheered on by the locals. 

The scenery is spectacular as you pass by rivers, dams, hill top villages and orchards, with a few hills to test you along the way. The local people are now quite familiar with the annual marathon that descends on their community and they show their support by cheering the runners on as they run through their villages. 

The children are very excited to see the runners each year and are keen to ‘high five’ you as you make your way along the course. 

The race start and finish is based in an old fort, at a lower part of the wall. From here the marathon winds 5km uphill until you reach the wall, where you have distant views down the valley as you cross from east to west. The next part of the course goes out through the valley before you return through the fort and begin your final climb up the wall…. a tough climb that often brings runners to their hands and knees, in the final kilometres of the race. 

On Thursday prior to the race all runners come up to the wall for a familiarisation day. As well as having their race day briefing, you also have the opportunity to walk over the wall at a leisurely pace, taking happy snaps along the way.

In and Around

Options for the Great Wall Marathon are to base yourself in Beijing or in rural China and include tours of the local area. The rural area of Jixian/Pinggu showcases the delights of rural China, where you can wander around local markets, visit the ancient Qing Tombs and experience local life going at a much slower pace. 

Beijing is a lively and bustling city, with many features such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Silk Markets, the Olympic Stadium (Birds Nest), Summer Palace and excellent options for dining. An early morning run to the Temple of Heaven and you can join in the dawn Tai Chi classes – a great way to get the limbs moving after the challenge of the Great Wall Marathon! 

There are also a number of extension tours to choose from, to enhance your trip to China – a trip to X’ian to see the famed Terracotta Warriors; cruise along the Yangtze, visit the vibrant Shanghai or explore the wonders of Tibet on a trip to Lhasa.

Getting There

There are many options to fly to China with the emergence of the Chinese Airlines and, as such, prices are very competitive. Cathay Pacific fly via Hong Kong, where you can enjoy a stop-off along the way; China Southern fly via Guangzhou; and China Eastern fly non-stop to Beijing. 

How to Enter

RunFun Travel in an International Travel Partner for the Great Wall Marathon and entry is available only via the purchase of a Travel Package. Choose from either the 6days/5nights Rural China or 7days/6nights Beijing package, both of which are inclusive of accommodation, entry to the Great Wall Marathon (or distance of your choice), daily breakfast and many other meals, noodle and rice pre-race dinner, race day transfers and Gala Dinner.

About Run Fun Travel


RunFun Travel is owned and managed by Fran Seton with support from her husband Dave Cundy. The business specialises in bringing together Fran and Dave’s two passions of marathon running and travel. Having been involved in running and marathons for over 30 years, they have contacts all over the world. It’s these contacts that enable them to bring new events to runners and this is what sets RunFun Travel apart . As well as being part of the travel industry, they are part of the worldwide running industry.


They have organised, run in and worked with marathons around the world – they know what runners want from an event and, more importantly, they are well placed to deliver it. While you do the training, they will do the organising to ensure your running experience delivers when it counts.

Click here for RunFun Travel website