Great Wall 2012 Marathon: Birds Nest Stadium, Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo, Gala Dinner Race Celebration, Atmosphere Bar

Introduction and Planning
Training Schedule
Flight, Airport Transfer, Cocktail Reception
Longest Day: Wall Walkthrough, Acrobatic Show
Tianamen Square, Forbidden Palace, and Yuanlong Silk Store
Race Day and Marathon Review
Birds Nest Stadium, Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo, Gala Dinner Race Celebration, Atmosphere Bar
Pickpockets at the Beijing Zoo
Beijing Hutong Rickshaw Tour, Temple of Heaven, Peking Duck Dinner, and Hooters
Flight home and trip summary

The first stop of the day was the Olympic Stadium area of Beijing, with the Bird’s Nest Stadium and in the distance the Aqua Cube and the Olympic hotel. We drove closest to the birds nest. There was an admissions fee that was not included but I was willing to pay for it as I’ll probably never get a chance to come here again. We had about an hour to tour the complex and it was on your own. The guides asked us if we wanted to see it and many people did. This wasn’t officially part of the tour but the guides thought it may be good to see. Most people stayed on the outside and walked around to see the other buildings.

There was not much to see as it is just a giant stadium often resembling an European soccer stadium. It definitely looked bigger in person. The field was being used for Segway tours and also a Segway challenge course, which was kind of cool. That is what the cones were for.

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There was also an IOC (international Olympic Committee) exhibit. Also in attendance were the Olympic 2008 Mascots.

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In the distance was the hotel to house most of the athletes and the Aqua Cube, which is still being used.

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The next stop was the King’s Summer Palace. It is a large park that encompasses a large lake. The park as it is known today was built in the 1700s and burnt down twice due to war. It was rebuilt twice, in 1886 and 1902. This lake was also enlarged to look like West Lake in Hangzhou. The tour guides lead us through the palace, but there were a few stops and they gave us about 30 minutes at each place to walk around on our own.

You can see in the distance a giant building. In the 1900s, the Chinese Navy would hold exercises in the lake and commanders would be in that building supervising the exercises. We took a boat across the lake to reach near that building. The Long Corridor is on that side of the palace.

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The left picture is of the Long Corridor. There is a lot of artwork there and was built by the Empress to shield her mother from the elements during her walk. The below picture is a boat made of marble. The upper levels were made of wood.

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Decorated Paifang in the picture below.

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The next stop was the Beijing Zoo, which was also an additional stop that was not on the original plan. Many of us wanted to go to the Zoo to see the Pandas so we made a quick one hour stop at the Zoo. We needed to be on time as we had the Gala Dinner later that night.

Most of us didn’t stop to see anything else. We made a bee-line to the Panda exhibit as it is one of the largest in the world. The play areas were much larger than any Zoo I’ve been in. They also had a nursery there as well.

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After the Zoo, we quickly returned to the hotel to get ready for the Gala Dinner with an award ceremony for the race. There were a few people who did not finish within the 8 hour limit and we asked Scott to inquire at the Gala Dinner if they would have an official time and finish. The response he received was no, but that they would have a special discounted package to retry the race next year. I am not sure if anyone took up that offer.

We were told to dress up but after the race we had, I wasn’t sure how dress up the men would be. The women surely dressed up but about 50% of the guys did.

The venue was large and very nice.

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During the dinner, there were some speeches and awards. There was someone who was insane enough to run every Great Wall Marathon. He also comes in wearing every medal, which was interesting. They also listed the other statistics about the course. Adventure-marathons is the company that ran it during 2012 and 2013, so they had their own video showcasing the Solar Eclipse Marathon in Australia where they would start after the eclipse. It was definitely a great promo video.

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The cultural show at the end was interesting to say the least. I don’t think it was very cultural as it was just women in tight short dresses playing the drums. They did a few different acts but it was borderline sexual. To be relevant, it was similar to Miley Cyrus 2013 MTV VMA performance. Probably not as bad, but about as weird.

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Afterwards, me and two other runners wanted to go across the street at the China World Trace Center to have a few drinks at Atmosphere Bar. I found that they had a bar on the top floor so we went to check out the view. You can go through the lobby to take the elevator to the top floor. (Picture from Shangri-la website)

Atmosphere Bar

Unfortunately, it was getting increasingly cloudy and hazy throughout our stay there so the view wasn’t great but we did see the buildings around us. There were two sections of the lounge. One was the bar while the other was a restaurant with some live music. We sat at the bar and enjoyed some over-priced drinks. The view and decor was very nice. We were kicked out around 2am as we were just discussing the race and the occurrence at the Zoo (next post).

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