Great Wall Marathon

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The Great Wall Marathon is an annual marathon race held on May along and on the Huangyaguan or Huangya Pass (Chinese: 黄崖关; Chinese: 黃崖關; Pinyin: Huángyáguān; Literally: "Yellow Cliff Pass"), Tianjin section of the Great Wall of China East of Beijing.[1][2] Since it first start in 1999, the race has grown to several hundred participants. A locally organized event offering a full selection of runs including a full marathon (42.2k), half marathon (21.1k), 10k, and 5k distances. Aside from the main marathon, a half marathon, 10 km and 5 km runs were also held until 2012. 2013 marked the debut of an 8.5 km "fun run", replacing the 5 and 10 km distances. The course is much tougher than traditional marathons with participants challenged by 5,164 stone steps and many steep ascents and descents.[3]

The first and longest running international marathon whose course is entirely on the Great Wall of China. The course traverses through the Simatai (simplified Chinese: 司马台; traditional Chinese: 司馬臺; pinyin: Sīmǎtái), a section of the Great Wall of China located in the north of Miyun County, 120 km northeast of Beijing, and Jinshanling (simplified Chinese: 金山岭; traditional Chinese: 金山嶺; pinyin: Jīnshānlǐng), a section of the Great Wall of China located in the mountainous area in Luanping County, 125 km northeast of Beijing.

Course Conditions[edit]

Considered as one of the most challenging adventure marathons due to the extreme course conditions. Containing more than 20,000 unrelenting stone steps, many vary in height from a few centimeters to over 40 cm in height, with many of the original sections little more than rubble, and no less than 30 km of running experience on one of the oldest and most recognizable structures in the world.

A small portion of the Great Wall on the course has been restored, much of the Great Wall is still in its original state and in ruins. Runners will encounter loose stones, gravel, missing steps, and crumbling walls along with sections taken over by nature with trees and plant life. Runners must use extreme caution as there are sections of the race course where you must exit the Great Wall and run on the trail alongside the wall to avoid extreme hazards. Runners should be physically fit and in shape as this marathon can be extremely strenuous. Each section of the course will offer different challenges. It is suggested to train to help condition your body to prepare for the race.

Course Elevation[edit]

The Great Wall of China Marathon course varies in height by around 200m (about 650 feet) between the start line and the highest point at East Tower 20. Stone guard towers are spread along the length of the wall, each some 200m to 300m apart. Stone steps and walkways, following the up and down contours of the ground, connect the towers.

The effect this creates for runners is similar to interval training, with an effort required to climb up, followed by a recovery period coming down. Regular training on steps as part of your preparations for the Great Wall is highly recommended.

Time Limits[edit]

There is a 10-hour time limit for all races, start time is approximately 6:00 AM with a 4:00 PM CUT-OFF time. Participants must maintain a pace faster than the course time limits in order to complete the race.


The winner was Salvador Calvo, whose time of 3:23:10 broke the previous course record by four minutes.


Saturday May 17, 2008: Again, the previous race record was broken, this time by Great Wall Marathon first-timer Romualdo Sanchez Garita from Mexico. His finish time was 3:18:48. The fastest woman in the field was South African Leanne Juul, who finished in 4:09:10.


Saturday May 16, 2009: There were 1,363 runners in the four distances. More than 40 countries were represented. The two winners in the marathon category were:

Justin Walker, USA, 3:40:54
Joanna Gosse, New Zealand, 4:03:23


Saturday May 15, 2010: A record number of 1,748 participants from around the world ran the four distances. The fastest runners in the marathon were:

Qiang Tong, China, 3:24:44
Inez-Anne Haagen, The Netherlands, 3:56:38


Saturday May 21, 2011: The fastest runners in the marathon were:

Yanqiao Yun, China, 3:18:48
Mari Kauri, Finland, 4:11:19


Saturday May 18, 2012: The fastest runners in the marathon were:

Luis Alonso, Spain, 3:39:28
Mari Kauri. Finland, 4:10:43


Saturday May 18, 2013: The fastest runners in the marathon were:

Jorge Maravilla (USA), Dimitris Theodorakakos (Greece) and Jonathan Wyatt (New Zealand) who crossed the finish line together in record time, 3:09:18
Silvia Serafini, Italy, 3:32:12 (a new women's record)

The half-marathon was won by Geoffrey de Bilderling with a time of 1 hour 38 minutes 56 seconds.


Saturday May 17, 2014: The fastest runners in the marathon were:

Men: Ernesto Ciravegna, Italy, 3:33:56
Women: Sofía García Bardoll, Spain, 3:57:25


The 2015 race was held on Saturday, 16 May. The Fastest Runners in the Marathon main event were:

Men: China's Shen Jason won. His finish time was 3:41:40.

Women: USA's Eleanor Fuqua Williamson won. Her finish time was 4:18:35.


  1. ^ Fishpool, Sean (5 November 2002). "The Great Wall Marathon". Runners World. 
  2. ^ "On your marks, get set, race! Alternative marathon runs". Metro (UK). 26 Oct 2012. 
  3. ^ Conner, Shawn. "5 Extreme Marathons Only Superhumans Could Survive (and Two for the Rest of Us)". BC Living. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 

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