Great Wall Marathon

16 May 2020

Route & Elevation

The Great Wall Marathon is widely considered one of the world's most challenging marathons... and for good reason. Be as prepared as possible to conquer the wall with info about elevation and route.

Despite the arduous courses on the iconic Great Wall of China, runners will be rewarded by its breathtaking surroundings and views. As the route leads participants through the lower valley and into the villages, onlookers will be cheering and the festive atmosphere is a real energy boost!

Learn more about the route and the three distances below.
 

Route map
Elevation

Distances

The Great Wall Marathon features three distances:

Full marathon - 42.195km/26.2mi

Half marathon - 21.1km/13.1mi

Fun Run - 8.5km/5.5mi - a non-competitive run also on the Great Wall

Start / Finish

All three distances start and finish in Yin & Yang Square at the fortress of the Huanyaguang section of the Great Wall in Tianjin province.

The race will start in waves with 10-minute intervals. You will be assigned to a wave based on the running time you provide on the entry form. You must start in the wave to which you have been assigned. Runners who are assigned to separate waves, but want to start together may do so by going to the wave corresponding to the higher number. Fun Run participants will start together in the last wave. Final details about the number of waves and start times will be announced in the Runners’ Guidebook, which will be handed out in the goodie bag.

The finish line for all distances is located at the center of Yin & Yang Square. All runners will receive a medal after crossing the finish line. Results will be posted at Yin &Yang Square during the race. 

Final results will be published on this website here: https://great-wall-marathon.com/results

Lunch will be served at the designated area. You must present your coupon to collect your lunch. This coupon will be provided in your Goodie Bag as part of your Great Wall Marathon entry ticket package.

A limited number of cold showers are available in the neighboring courtyard of Yin & Yang Square. Please bring your own towel, if you plan to shower before heading back to Beijing.

A massage service is available at the entrance of Yin & Yang Square. You will receive a coupon for one free massage in your Goodie Bag.

Bus coaches back to Beijing will depart from the bus parking lot from 12:00-16:30. The coaches will only leave when full.

Route Descriptions

All distance events in The Great Wall Marathon start from Yin and Yang Square in the old Huangyaguan fortress and begin along the same route. Immediately reaching Jinwei Highway, the route leads south for 1km before turning left on to Changcheng Highway. At this point, you are on the road leading to the Great Wall entrance and will face a 4km uphill climb. After completing the first 5km of your respective distance, you will meet the first of many steps! The next 3km are run on the Great Wall of China itself, including 1km 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 will find yourself back at Yin and Yang Square. Fun Run runners have now completed their race and head straight to the finish line in the center of the square. Marathon and half marathon runners can take in some energy from the cheering 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 26km mark, the next kilometer 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 and 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 and Yang Square and the finish line – congratulations, you have completed the Great Wall Marathon and 5,164 historic steps!

Route Logistics

Kilometer signs are placed at each kilometer along the route. The signs are color coded according to the distance they represent. The signs will also indicate the equivalent distance in miles.

Timing mats will be strategically placed on the route to ensure that all runners complete the distance they are registered for.

Water stations will be positioned along the route at approximately every 4 kilometers. Some stations will also serve energy drinks and bananas and provide wet sponges. Personal supplies can be deposited at selected drinks stations. 

For more information, have a look at the route map (above). 

While running on the Great Wall, please make way for faster runners and keep to the right. Please note that the route is not closed off for traffic. Although traffic is not heavy, take care when running on main roads and look out for vehicles.

Supply Stations

There will be water stations at approximately every 4 kilometers along the route. Some stations will also serve energy drinks and bananas. All stations provide bottled water. Marathon runners will be offered energy gel after 26km and 35km.

Surface

The Great Wall Marathon is mainly run on asphalt roads in fair condition and no special footwear is required. However, remember that high-performance clothes and footwear reduce your chances of getting blisters and calluses.

The section along the Great Wall consists of steps in varying height and width. Some steps are made of brick and others of uneven stone. Extra precaution should be taken when running this part. A few places on the wall section see no steps at all, but instead a ramp of rocks and concrete. These ramps can be slippery and extra attention must be paid to your footing! In some of the villages, the surface is gravel and dirt roads.