Getting there was a bit of an adventure, so I'll save that for another post. But the half marathon itself? Well, that was also rough.
I should start by saying that Inner Mongolia is simply stunning. We left Shanghai among some intense pollution and grey skies. Inner Mongolia had none of that. Blue skies, fresh air, and rolling hills. Yes, I said hills.
Simply put, this was not my race. Having trained on the flat roads of Shanghai, I was challenged by the constant change in elevation. Additionally, it was hot. I don't do hot well. Previous years had seen more moderate temperatures, but the day of our run was quite steamy. This course isn't one for personal records, and I certainly did not set one that day.
But the scenery was beautiful. At numerous points along the route, we were greeted by sheep, cows, and horses, all seemingly immune to the race taking place around them.
For someone who usually runs in the city, seeing endless green in front of me was a nice change. However, it also meant limited water stops and non existent bathroom facilities. For most of the race, the only spectators were the previously mentioned cattle.
Despite a less than ideal personal time, I enjoyed the Grassland Marathon. Would I do it again? Probably not, but it was a nice way to see an area of China that I otherwise might have missed.
Interested in taking part in the grasslands marathon? Registration is already open for the 2015 race.