LGS in China oder: Was macht eigentlich (Langstreckler) Martin Kuhlmann?

Kürzlich erreichte uns folgender Reise- und Sportbericht des ehemaligen Vorzeigeläufers des Kreises Olpe und gebürtigen Saalhausers, Martin Kuhlmann. Zusammen mit seiner Frau Rosalie "gönnte" sich Martin ein Lauf-Event und eine Erfahrung der besonderen Art: Ein Marathon auf der Chinesische Mauer...

(Ein beeindruckendes Bild befindet sich am Ende des Artikels...)

On Tuesday, May 15, Rosalie and I took off for Beijing to participate at the Great Wall Marathon. After arriving early morning in Beijing we actually got into our room at 9am in the morning. We were thankful for a bed as we hadn’t slept much on the flight (red-eye). We slept for five hours. In the afternoon, we headed over to Tian-An-Men Square (walking about 3km). To give our legs some rest, we took the subway back to our hotel. The next day, there was a full day city tour (Tian-An-Men Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Perl market). I got to say that I never walked that much just three days ahead of a marathon. Thursday morning, we left at 5am for Huangyaguan (黄崖关) a village in Tianjin (天津). It's about 150km northeast of central Beijing (北京). The Great Wall Marathon, as the organizers reminded us, is the only marathon that has a mandatory inspection walk through prior to the race. Inspection day was Thursday and the mandatory section was walking through the wall portion of the course. This has two purposes - the first is to give the runners the opportunity to take photos with friends and families and the second is to give the runners a glimpse of what to expect. The actual distance we would be running on the Great Wall is 3.2km/6.4km (half/full marathon). For the full marathon distance, each runner faces the Wall twice. The first time after 3 miles / 4.5km, the second time after 21 miles/34km. But it's not the horizontal distance that is the key, but the total amount of vertical distance. For each time crossing The Wall, a runner had to climb/descend 1900 stairs of various height and length. The total vertical elevation change is 800 feet (250m) each time a runners crosses The Wall. I attached some pictures from the inspection day (these are not from the steep sections). After completing the walk, we stood in line for lunch. The man in front of us turned around surprised by Rosalie’s very American accent, stating that he was looking for native Chinese entering the race. Rosalie’s answer can be read at:

It turned out that he was an Associated Press journalist.

Friday, we took it easy, resting and sleeping. I finally got (almost) over my cold that had caused a sore thought for the previous six days. Luckily, I never felt weak. On race day, we had to get up at 2:20am to catch the busses leaving at 3am. After the 3 hour bus ride, we reached Huangyaguan at 6am. The race started at 7:30am in the Ying-Yang Square with 450 runners over the full marathon distance. Another 750 runners had entered the half marathon, 10km and 5km. Rosalie started over the half marathon distance. She had to cross The Wall once. She finished in 3:02h 106th out of 223 female finishers.

Here is my race experience:

Everybody started out quite slowly, so I was actually in the lead for about 200m. The first half mile was quite flat, running at a 6:40min/mile pace (4:00 min/km). The next 2.5 miles (4km) led to The Wall for which we had to gain 600feet/175m vertically (4.5% gradient). Not a bad start for a marathon. After the initial half mile, I settled in at an 8-8:30minutes/mile (5:15minutes/km) pace. The next stretch was The Wall section of 2 miles/3.2km. The first 1.25miles/2km on The Wall took me almost 20 minutes. At the end of The Wall section, each runner has to run/walk/climb down a goat trail (1000feet/300m in length while losing 680feet/200 meters vertically). About 2/3 of the distance are stairs. Yup, that is a gradient of 33%. Considering that I am already getting a bit tired after 5 miles (8km), I think in vain at mile 21 (km34)  when I have to climb up this section. However, to get back to The Wall, I still had to run 16 miles (25km) through several villages, fields and roads. My longest training run in Singapore was just 19 miles, in the heat and humidity of Singapore; it was tough to get in a longer run. My overall training mileage was also quite low, just 20-25 miles per week). I set out for a similar pace as in my training runs of 8minutes/mile (5minutes/km). The humidity at least was much lower in China (20%  compared to 90% in Singapore), while the temperature was the same (31C or 88F). There were drink stations every couple of kilometers. They provided bottled water that most runners carried with them until the next water station. As there was no Gu/Gel, etc handed out, I had deposited several Gu packages at three spots along the course. I opened the first Gu package after 7 miles, providing me with a welcome energy boost. After some quite uneventful miles, I arrived at an uphill section at around 10 miles (16km). I started out running. Suddenly my calved slightly cramped up at mile 11 (km18). Bad sign, I hadn’t even reached half way yet. It turned out that the there was a 4.5 mile uphill stretch (7 km) with a 650 feet (190m) vertical elevation gain. Somehow, I had missed this section on the elevation map (to my defense, there was no elevation chart provided on the web-site, I had only looked the elevation chart for a couple of minutes on Inspection Day). My pace dropped significantly, partly dropping to 13-14 minutes/mile (8- 9 minutes/km). You know, walking pace. From mile 14-18.5 (km 23 to km 30), I regained some strength while running downhill (at a pace of about 8-8:30 minutes/mile). The next 3 miles (5km) led again uphill, though this time just 130feet/40m vertically. Just before re-entering The Wall section, all runners cross through the Ying-Yang square (start/finish area). Over the previous 10 miles, I passed and got passed by pretty much the same people. Constantly, I floated through position 28 to 35 overall. Matt, a guy from Australia waited at the bottom of the Wall for me to catch up (he was about 50m ahead of me) as neither of us had the desire to face The Wall on his own. As we walked up the goat trail, we climbed each stair in slow motion. It took about 2 seconds per stair. Three times I simply turned around and sat on the stairs, “enjoying” the view while being completely exhausted. It took me 43 minutes for the first 1.25miles (2km) on my 2nd voyage over the Wall. Each step I was close to cramping, not only in my calves, but also in my thighs. Luckily, I did fairly well on the downhill section of The Wall (of course walking), passing three runners. Once I got off The Wall, I knew I could finish this race, the question was just how long it would take me. 4.5km of downhill were ahead of me, the same curvy road that we started out on 4 hours ago. The first five steps off The Wall I almost fell, as both my calves cramped up simultaneously. Somehow, I got though this (maybe the Advil I took before the race helped), slowly finding a rhythm. I averaged again 8 minutes/mile while finishing off my 7th Gu package. I finished in 4:39h in 32nd position overall, 29th among the men, 5th in my age group. Only 64% of all marathon runners finished the race. It’s now three days after the race, I can finally walk flat surfaces without a problem. Stairs though are still a challenge.

Overall, this has been the toughest thing I have ever done in my life (it was great though!). People say that Tibet marathon ( run at 12,000 feet above sea level and the Everest marathon ( starting at Everest base camp of 18,000 feet (mainly running downhill) are potentially tougher. Who knows, I might experience these races in the years to come.

In summary:

Length: 26.2km

Number of stairs: 3800

Elevation change: 3650 feet / 1100m

Course record: 3:23h (by a guy who runs 2:20h)

Bei der Strecken-Inspektion vor dem Rennen. Unvorstellbar - Steine, Gabelungen, Treppen soweit das Auge reicht (links: Rosalie).
Tuesday., 22. May 2007

Grüße von den Weltspielen der Polizei- und Feuerwehrleute 2007 in Adelaide/Australien

Carmen Otto (32) ist wieder mal auf Tour. Sie verbindet die World Police and Fire Games wieder mal mit einem ausgiebigen Urlaub. Diesmal auf der anderen Erdhalbkugel. Grüße erreichten TVK und LGS kürzlich per Ansichtskarte aus Sydney...
Friday., 06. April 2007

Grüße von den WORLD Police & Fire GAMES in Quebec

...erreichten die TVK-Abteilung Leichtathletik von Carmen Otto und Serge Toson.

Beide sind im Dienste der jeweiligen Polizei für Nationalkader und Department-Team im Einsatz beim Halb-Marathon dieser "Welt-Spiele"...

Thursday., 23. June 2005

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