VISITING the Great Wall of China is on many people’s bucket list.
For Inverloch’s Michelle and Simon Harris, the couple went one better, running along the wall as part of the Great Wall Marathon on May 21.
To celebrate her 40th birthday in February, Michelle decided to compete in what has been labelled one of the toughest marathons in the world.
Husband Simon joined her for the trip and ran the half marathon.
Michelle said the marathon was brutal.
“Eight kilometres of the marathon is on the steps, 5200 steps of the wall. It’s unbelievably steep. All the stairs are different sizes and it was 33 degrees Celsius for the marathon,” she said
“The wall is unbelievable. It’s hectic and busy with 27 million people in Beijing, then you drive up the mountain with pristine countryside and this wall which you don’t even know how they built, it’s amazing.
“I hadn’t really travelled much before so it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing I wanted to tick off the bucket list.
“I went crazy and thought ‘let’s travel and go do a marathon’. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done.”
Michelle’s hard work training in the lead up to the event paid off, when she finished 58th overall with a time of 4:49:32.
She was the 11th female across the line and second in her age group.
Simon completed the half marathon in 2:36:30 – 25th in his age group and 180th overall.
“I have done quite a bit of running, so I chose this race because it was going to be a real challenge and that it was,” Michelle said.
“The heat on race day was probably one of the main reasons which makes it harder than most marathons, plus those crazy stairs.
“I am very lucky to run with some local ladies and we call ourselves the ‘Early Birds’ as we run at the crack of dawn.
“I am very lucky to have their support and we have trained a lot on the rail trails, Shack Bay stairs, the George Bass rail trail and at Wilsons Prom. It was perfect preparation for everything except for the heat.”