Inspection Day for the Great Wall Marathon takes place two days before the race. The purpose of this day is for you to learn about details you need to know for race day and to walk the section of the wall you will run in preparation. Immediately following your completion of the portion of the wall you are allowed to change your distance and downgrade from 26.2 to the half or fun run distances. They said each year they have a couple of runners who had planned to run the half that upgrade to the marathon!

We all sat for a meeting at Ying Yang Square – where the start and finish of the marathon was. The view from the ground was breathtaking, so I knew we were in for a treat once we got up to the wall. After the talk was over, we all boarded our buses and they drove us up the roughly 5k distance to the entrance of the Huangyaguan Wall.

I was completely nervous going in to this race about whether or not I would finish it. Rachel {} assured me there was no way I wouldn’t finish, that 6 hours was plenty of time to get back to the wall for a second time {the cut off} and 8 hours was more than enough to finish 26.2 miles. The year she ran they had cool temperatures and she finished in under 5 hours – to give you an idea of how speedy that is – only 15 women ran under 5 hours this year.

While the wall was very hard, it was actually not as hard as I had built it up to be in my head. Walking it was manageable and though I knew I would have to do it faster and twice, come race day – I also knew that I had zero time pressure on myself, so there was nothing to be nervous about.


Another bonus of Inspection Day was that everyone could stop and take as many pictures as possible. The race director suggested this was easier than bringing a camera and stopping on race day, especially if you were cutting it close to the time limits. I had planned on running with a camera during the race but decided not to after the inspection. While I don’t have any pictures from the towns we ran through, I am ultimately glad I decided to leave my camera in my checked bag.


The only bit of advice I have for this day is to take it easy on the wall. We were with our new friends {you are with the same group all week – so everyone becomes fast friends} on the wall, only I kept going ahead because I was so excited {I basically felt like a little kid frolicking around}. The views – the wall – the fact that I was in China – it was all so exciting to me, that I didn’t think twice about the fact that the climbs, and descents were hard. When all of us got off the wall we chatted about how our legs felt like they were wobbling. If you walked you didn’t feel it, but if you stood still for a second, you wobbled. At the end we caught up to one of our friends from the group who finished as the 3rd male, his legs were wobbly too, so I thought nothing of how sore my legs already felt. I woke up the next day and felt more sore than I do post marathon. Thankfully I brought my Roll Recovery and was able to roll out my legs to help, but still I woke up race morning really sore. In hindsight, I was an idiot, no one else in our group had sore legs on race day. Take it from me and don’t let your emotions get the best of you, there is no need to go fast on Inspection Day – you have hours to complete it – no need to do it any faster.


The lunch they provided was Subway, which had me laughing. You go all the way to China and you are given food you could get 5 minutes away from your house. Not complaining though, everyone seemed to enjoy it and it was a welcome break from all of the Chinese food!

After lunch we waited for the rest of our group to finish the climb and then boarded the bus for our 3 hour ride back to Beijing!

For more of my pictures from Inspection Day check out my latest post for Women’s Running –

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