5,164 steps into unbearable pain

The glossy brochure actually says “5,164 steps into history”.

Last weekend, I joined a bunch of my colleagues running the Great Wall Marathon.  We didn’t actually do the marathon … thankfully.  Our 10 kilometre run was challenge enough.

It was a beautiful day … not too hot, not too cold …a Goldilocks level of ‘just right’.  The sky was actually blue!  There were green mountains!  And finally, after over a year here, I got to see the Great Wall.

In fact, lots of the Wall.  The 10 kilometre course (like the other race distances) weaved through a small village for a few kilometres before taking to the wall itself.  I wanted to travel light (I was actually trying to make a good time, seeing I had bothered to start training a couple of months ago) so I didn’t carry my camera.  Fortunately though, we were joined by our very own company photographer (it’s a full time gig but he does find plenty to do …) so the whole event was captured well.

The views were pretty spectacular, into the valley that the village nestled into, as well as across the mountain tops and ridge lines that the wall run along.

But yes, getting to the top of those mountains was quite a task.  I had wondered whether the 5,164 steps were just an estimate of the number of strides you take completing the race … but soon realised that it was in fact a very accurate count of the number of stairs you needed to scale along the length of the wall.   Stairs that varied in height and material, went up then down then up again, sometimes became ramps, often only 1 metre wide with a sheer drop to the edge.

“Run” became “walk” very quickly.


There was plenty of huffing and puffing and cursing.  Some people were literally crawling up the stairs.  I noticed a few stretchers stashed away at key points of the course and I wasn’t at all surprised.

After a few kilometres, we left the wall and from there, it was a gentle slope (albeit 5 more kilometres of running) back to the village and the finish line.  I did OK, finishing in top 20% with all the fit-freaks.

I don’t think I have ever pushed myself so hard before (a head cold lingering from earlier in the week certainly didn’t help).  But I didn’t really get to enjoy the view.   Next year, I might just walk.



2 Responses to 5,164 steps into unbearable pain

  1. Justin says:

    Well done on surviving this – and better yet on finishing in the top 20%. Suitably impressed 🙂

  2. Danielle says:

    Well done Doctor, an impressive effort!!!

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