Unleash the Dragon – The Great Wall Marathon

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Ever since I was a kid, I had always been fascinated by the Great Wall of China. Why did they build it? Who built it? How long did it take? Can you really see it from space? What would it be like to walk on? and was it built to keep the rabbits out? (simply explained in a commercial advert back in the 90’s) lol

In January 2014, I came across this awesome Marathon Trailer and it ignited that burning desire in me to travel to China.

I started training vigorously. Mind you, the longest distance that I’d ever run was the City to Surf (from Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach – 14 km). So this would be my first marathon ever. Apart from training the body, I also trained the mind to stay calm in difficult situations by practicing yoga regularly.

McElhone Stairs – Potts Point and the Blue Mountains were the places where I did most of my training for the stairs. The rest was around the local areas and on the treadmill.

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13/05/14 Leaving for Beijing, feeling very excited and nervous!

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14/05/14

Met the most amazing and inspiring group of runners from all over Australia

Photo: @ Tiananmen Square

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15/05/14

Inspection Day – up early and caught a bus for 2 hours from Beijing to inspect the wall. We walked 3 km on the wall to get used to the structure and to see what we were up against! I was absolutely enthralled by the beauty of this manmade structure. We were notified that there would be over 2000 participants on race day. WOW!

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17/05/14 RACE DAY

Rise and shine at 3:30 AM. Took a bus to the section of the wall (2 hours from Beijing) for the 7:30 AM start. It was freezing cold and dark!!!

The atmosphere was amazing!

With Paul, Laura, Erin & Myriam

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Was lucky to run alongside these most athletic ladies from Brisbane, Erin & Donna

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Before the race with the awesome Myriam

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….and the happy Laura, who was cheering and taking photos before I took off! Getting very nervous now!!!

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1,2, 3…….GOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

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After running for 5 km up the hill, I finally reached the entrance of the  Great Wall10271494_10152823557352802_8475303718824804564_n

The moment we’d all been waiting for…. Man, it was steep and those steps were so uneven. Lucky it was a cool and sunny day and I didn’t sweat too much at this stage.

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Off the wall and into the villages….the locals were so warm and welcoming, saying hi to us along the way!

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….and into the valley….At this stage, my left knee started to hurt, which forced me to walk and run at a slower pace.

 

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Still had time to take a selfie 🙂

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….Had been downing over 15 bottles of water and 3 bananas…gotta keep going….

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…31 km already? I’ve made it this far? No way!!!

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11 km to go. Gotta get going! Back into the wall for the second time for all the full marathon runners. At this stage, I could only drag myself by pulling on the hand rail, one or two step at a time. The left knee was hurting badly, so I needed to straighten the left leg whenever I went down the steps. The view was stunning from above.

“I’ve made it this far. Don’t give up now.”

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Very exhausted! It was approximately 2 pm at this stage. I’d been running/walking/dragging for over 6 hours now. Still had to get out of the wall, and down the hill for 5 km before reaching the Finish line. “I can do this!!!!”

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Regardless of the sore knee, I got out of the wall and slowly ran/walked down the hill for 5 km before reaching the end.

Almost there!!! 1 km to go!!!

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Spending some time at this sign, 42 km, thinking, my goal has been reached!!! It was an uplifting and happy feeling. I got a bit emotional!

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…ran to the finish line and discovered that my teammates were still there waiting to cheer for me after all this time. They’d been standing there for as long as I’d been running. I was SO THANKFUL, and with all the energy that I had left, ran to the FINISH LINE.

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EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

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I’m dedicating this journey to my beloved parents, my family, my life coaching team, sponsors and supporters and to all the new friends that I’ve made during the marathon. Thank you for your love and support.

A massive THANK YOU to the Felicity Kent & Angela Everett from Travelling Fit for their commitment, effort and organisation from the beginning until the end of the trip. They definitely made everything so much easier for us while in China. Thank you guys, you truly are amazing! For more information on Travelling Fit, go to http://www.travellingfit.com/home/.aspx

Also, thank you Adventure Marathon for creating this great marathon. For more information go to http://www.adventure-marathon.com/default.aspx

See you at the next race, wherever that may be 🙂

Binh

 

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