Sunday, May 22, 2011

Great Wall of China Marathon vs. My Brother

Madness of the Great Wall Marathon
My brother Sean had a battle royal with the Great Wall of China Marathon yesterday. Like a hoard of invading Mongols content to only run up-and-down the battlements rather than over and through, he along with some 500+ marathoners and 1500 half marathoners took up this rather serious challenge of quad busting pain. I haven't spoken with him about it yet but I'm glad he finished and hope that he made it to the line on two feet rather than all fours.

I think the course involved four loops over a section of the wall that includes 5,164 stairs in its entirety. So that's 5,164 up then 5,164 back down to end at the start/finish. I don't know how much net elevation gain goes into that but it all sounds a bit dastardly to me. Climbing all those steps sounds rough, descending all those suckers sounds like a pain-train to hell. The guy knows how to pick 'em.

Sean, training along the Arroyo Chamiso last month

So my bro was visiting for the few weeks before his trip and ran training sessions on the stairs of Ivan Head Stadium here in Santa Fe to prepare. His finishing time looks like 5hr 53m 29sec, good for 250th overall and 31st in his age-group. The overall winner rocketed home in 3:18:48, likely some pissed off Mongol looking for centuries of payback or something. That's a ridiculous time, also maybe a ridiculous and off-color stereotype.

Pain-train to hell, all aboard
This was my brother's third marathon after his debut at the Rwanda Peace Marathon in '08, and the Athens 2500th Anniversary of Marathon in '10. He has an unusual method of picking out his race destinations which I believe involves irrationality and lots of money to blow on a plane ticket. There could be alcohol involved as well, I really don't know. I think he's going to be holed up at a graduate school program in Kansas for the next year or two so he can mix in 26.2 in someplace strangely foreign but much closer to home.

Post Update:  My brother tells me he'd denied access to my race report here in the Chinese internet cafes. The Great Firewall of China is indeed greater than the Great Wall of China Marathon. He relays to me that I have his time wrong by two minutes and I ought to give them the hell back since the race was pure misery and masochistic hate. You don't say. Apparently his final three miles, which covered a section that ran downhill, took him 45min to complete. - HDD

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