The Long Road Ahead – 2 days before race day
Inspection Day? Never heard of an inspection 2 days before any race in the past, but fortunately, and I do mean FORTUNATELY, this was an essential part of the Great Wall of China Marathon experience.
Staying at the Capitol Hotel in Beijing, our running group had a 2-hour bus trip out to the Great Wall. What is inspection day exactly? While not mandatory, inspection day allows runners, family, and friends the ability to do a “walk-through” on the Great Wall of China that mirrors the marathon route.
Heading into inspection day, I was pretty opposed to this idea. Why? For every race I have run in the past, I purposely never looked at the route in advance, ever. I never had to contemplate what was around the corner because I never knew. I thrived on everything being fresh.That worked in the past, and if you know me at all by now, I am extremely superstitious and OCD about my pre, during and post race routines.
I couldn’t of been more wrong in my assessment today.
First of all, I felt so privileged to have my parents and little sister for this ‘walk-through‘ on the Great Wall. We had the opportunity to go at our own pace, stopping for pictures throughout the trek and soaking in the fact we were walking along the Great Wall of China! These were priceless memories and made the entire day that much more worthwhile…
My father said “I never thought I would see the Great Wall of China in my lifetime. It was never on our radar before, but thanks to you, we are here today.” I wanted to say 313 days ago, it wasn’t on my radar either, but a lot has transpired over that time and standing side-by-side my father is a memory I will cherish forever.
As we continued walking along the wall, I realized how important and advantageous this ‘walk-through‘ would ultimately be in respect to visualization. Although we were going at a snails pace (intentionally), I was processing the insane inclines and declines of this wall, and mentally preparing for the marathon much more effectively. This seemed to alleviate some of my initial fears and I envisioned the runs on the wall being ‘a nice break‘ in between running through the farmlands through god-know-what type of terrain (cue foreshadow).
Of course, the race was only 2 days away! Although walking and talking with my family on the Great Wall was a surreal experience that will last a lifetime, you better believe I was soaking up every step, crevice, loose rock, railing, lack there of railing, water station, spots of shade and any other detail you can imagine.
After walking off the wall, I noticed a good amount of people registered for the Full Marathon were switching to the Half. Upon asking one runner from the United States why he switched, he said “Simple. I didn’t think running the FULL would’ve been a problem. I trained more for this race than any other before. The second I stepped on the wall and looked ahead, I realized I made an massive error in judgement! I came here to enjoy this race and I want to make sure I have plenty of time to finish.” Despite the 8-hour time limit, he was not alone as several hundred people followed suit.
Although inspection day is optional, in my opinion, this should be mandatory! Runners should only be given their race chip if they participate in the ‘walk-through.’ Look no further than all the runners that decided to scale down from the full to the half marathon.
In two more days, I would realize why people call this race “The World’s Toughest Marathon!“
In the meantime, I figured I would just hang out with my little sister and take in the view!
To see more photos, go to: Inspection Day Walk-Through