The Great Wall Marathon starts from the Yin & Yang square in the old Huangyaguan fortress. Immediately reaching the Jinwei Highway the route leads south for 1km, before turning left on to the Changcheng Highway. You are now on the road leading to the Great Wall entrance and have a 4km uphill climb. After 5 km you meet the first of many steps and the next 3 km are run on the Great Wall of China itself, including 1 km around the magnificent fortress walls. Just before the 7km mark you face a 700m long section with a steep descent on the infamous “Goat Track”.
Once you’ve rounded the fortress walls and passed the 8km mark you find yourself back at the Yin & Yang Square. Fun Run runners have now completed their race and head straight to the finish line in the centre of the square. Marathon and half marathon runners can take in some energy from the spectators before heading south again following the river to the Duanzhuang village. At 13km the route crosses the river and the half marathon route now turns left to explore more of the village while the marathon route heads south towards the township of Xiaying.
At km 16 marathon runners exit Xiaying town and find themselves on the Maying Highway going east passing fields and farmland for 1.5km. Taking a sharp left turn towards the tiny Dongjiafen village, the route now heads north. The 20km mark is the beginning of a 6km long loop, passing through the village of Qingshanling. Exiting the loop section at the 26 km mark, the next kilometre leads up to the Chedaoyu village with a steep ascent.
Back in Duanzhuang village the marathon route merges with the half marathon route again. Marathon runners have now passed the 29km mark while half marathon runners have 5km to the finish line. Crossing back over the river, runners follow the Jinwei Highway back north to the Yin & Yang Square. Entering the square half marathon runners go straight for the finish line while marathon runners turn right and up the steps to face the Great Wall a second time! All marathon runners who have not reached the steps leading to the wall (34km) within 6 hours of the start will not be allowed to continue.
On the fortress’ north wall, marathon runners head east crossing the bridge leading to the “Goat Track”. At the foot of the hill, just before getting off the bridge, a wrist band is handed out as proof that the wall section has in fact been run twice. Runners now climb the 700m ascent before conquering the Great Wall from west to east. Once the steps have been passed the final 5km are downhill to the Yin & Yang Square and the finish line – congratulations, you have completed the Great Wall Marathon and 5,164 historic steps!