Running Along the Great Wall of China

Pure ecstasy fills my veins as I run atop the Great Wall of China.  Ever since childhood I have dreamt of this moment.  Now that I’ve arrived,  the largest smile beams across my face.  Even though I’m operating on little sleep, pure adrenaline fuels my body.  In fact, I forget the last time I’ve been so deliriously happy.

Running Along the Great Wall of China

Running Along the Great Wall of China. Arriving at the Great Wall of China has been the pinnacle of my travel career.
Running Along the Great Wall of China. Arriving at the Great Wall of China has been the pinnacle of my travel career.

A Brief Background of The Great Wall of China

Before I delve into my sprint along this famed structure, perhaps a bit of history is required.  In my current location, two hours outside of Beijing, only a small fraction of the wall is open to the public.  Unfortunately only about seventy percent of the entire wall remains, a result of erosion and vandalization.

Nevertheless the structure seems to disappear into the horizon, giving the impression the Great Wall of China stands strong just like it did two thousand years ago.  Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, ordered its construction in the seventh century B.C. primarily for two primary reasons.  First it prevented Mongolian invasions from the north.  Second, it also safeguarded China’s valuable silk trade.

Now a days visitors can choose from multiple locations to witness this Chinese marvel.  The Beijing section is most popular and highly recommended.  And it just happens to be where our guide took us.

Running Along The Great Wall of China. The wall measures 22,000 km (13,000 miles).  
Running Along The Great Wall of China. The wall measures 22,000 km (13,000 miles).  

My Run Atop the Great Wall of China

I’m sweating, and totally unprepared to be running for miles.  Regardless, sometimes logic goes out the window when faced with such euphoria.  My body moves rhythmically up and down the crests and through the towers.  I wish I could share this bliss with everyone.

My watch reads noon, meaning it’s almost midnight back home in Boston. Although it’s too late to call my best friend, I can always dial my mother.  When she answers, I’m so overjoyed, tears well up in my eyes.  Between catching my breath from the calisthenics and my delirium, she probably did not understand a word I said.

Regardless my mother has been my champion. Without her love and support I never would have taken my first trip out of country.   Her devotion provided me with the tools to make my success possible.

Unfortunately a bit of sadness also clouds our conversation.  I know she’ll never make it here.  Besides her lack of desire to visit China, my Mom uses crutches to walk.  Her physical limitations make non-handicapped places like China that much more undesirable.   Even though I know she would love the Great Wall of China, she much prefers voyages to Europe.

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

The Day After My Run Atop the Great Wall of China

After one of the best days of my like, I rose from bed a bit sore.  Most notably my sinus’ were congested and throat irritated.  Regrettably the symptoms persisted for a week, striking me with a full blown respiratory infection.

Although I was able to enjoy the rest of our trip, the infection was quite an annoyance.  Especially because Beijing’s smog was the primary culprit. That combined with my overexertion to make a toxic mix of biochemistry.

In spite of my minor setback, I certainly will return to the Great Wall of China one day.  However next time I’ll consult the Air Quality Index before attempting anything strenuous.  Being sick is not fun, especially when traveling.

Have you ever been to the Great Wall of China?

Please let me know in the comments!

Happy travels,

Matt Weatherbee

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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