I ran The Great Hakka Marathon at the weekend. Hidden in the depths of the Fujian province in the very South of China, it was a bit further from Beijing than I had at first realised. Still it meant the air was clearer and I didn’t have to run the whole race in a smog mask! A pleasant course, with a largely downhill first half followed by a generally uphill second half it was easy to set off far too quickly which I duly did. Largely on tarmac, the race travels down a couple of valleys in the region past the Tulou, designated a UNESCO world Heritage site, which are huge round huts built in the 10th Century largely for protection of the locals from vicious animals and crazy foreigners. Nowadays, thankfully they are more hospitable to people from out of town and the route occasionally diverted from the main road for a lap of one the huts.
Being at least foot taller than the average Chinese person, I found myself closer to the front of this race than I do back in the UK and so had the joys of running behind the lead motorcycle and various support cars for large proportions of the race. Unfortunately, these had a tendency to get stuck in foot traffic when negotiating the markets and village centres causing me on several occasions to scramble round the side and forge my own way through the crowds while the driver poured forth a string of what I imagine was Chinese abuse to the hapless tourists.
A surprising 2nd place meant I returned to Beijing with a little red suitcase and a plate with a horse emblazoned across the front. I am still trying to work out the significance of this as I did not encounter a single horse on my travels. Results