From the hills of Warrandyte to the Great Wall of China, local fitness femme BEC ROSTRON completed a marathon from great heights recently and is this month’s guest travel writer. A proud Warrandytian for the past 12 years with her husband Marty and three children, Hudson (13), Archer (11) and Rose (9), Bec has also played a big part in our local community, including transforming many local women’s lives with her fitness business called Femmex. That provided the building blocks to launch her into becoming our latest Marathon Woman.
RUNNING a small women’s fitness business for the past four years, I’ve really enjoyed specialising in high intensity workouts that are certainly not for the faint-hearted. I love motivating all those local dedicated girls who come to my classes and see them achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.
I work my butt off in the classes, too, so that girls are constantly pushed to another level. Through these classes my fitness has increased and so too did the length of my runs. I started my love of running about 10 years ago, but definitely was not doing big runs for the first few years. I have now done one marathon, three half marathons, three Puffing Billy runs and countless other fun runs in and around Melbourne.
I first decided to do a marathon in my 40th year as kind of a tick on my bucket list. I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 23 and was told I’d be in a wheel chair by the time I turned 40. So when, after limitless visits to hospitals, doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturists and so on, I found just a change in my eating habits sent my arthritis into remission (where it has now been for about eight years) and I decided to take my running a bit more seriously.
With 5164 steps and endless hills to be climbed, the Great Wall of China Marathon has been billed as one of the toughest running events in the world: which is why I eventually chose this one.
I was lucky enough to have talked a friend from Queensland into conquering this marathon with me. Chantal grew up in Park Orchards and attended Aquinas with me so I have known her for many years.
We arrived in China and had a day of sightseeing around Beijing before heading to the Tianjin Province, Jixian, to settle in before checking out the hardest wall portion of the run. The photos just don’t let you know exactly how steep the steps actually are, but the views are out of this world. I wasn’t expecting it to be as breathtaking as it was. The 3.5km section we completed felt really hard and woke up with sore calves the next day: we questioned whether we were ready for such a feat. What had we got ourselves into? Already sore with only steps and no kilometres!
We had a day to rest before waking up at 5am on Saturday May 16 and were shuttled on a bus to the Yin & Yang Square where the run would commence. It was a crazy atmosphere in the square as 2500 runners were all milling about waiting for their turn. We had a very funny 1980s aerobics-inspired warm-up for a few minutes and then it was time to line up at the start.
It was going to be 30 degrees and sunny so the morning chill didn’t last very long once the race began.
I started out strong and thank goodness for all the hours spent training on the hills of Warrandyte as there were a lot more hills than I was expecting. I felt strong climbing the wall and headed out to complete 26km around the villages for what I thought was the flat part of the run (I was wrong!).
Despite the continuous hills, this was also one of the best parts for me as the streets were lined with children wanting high fives and shouting words of encouragement. It definitely kept me in great spirits for the rest of the run. Despite accidentally taking a 5km detour (serious blonde moment and bad signage), I absolutely loved every part of it.
Climbing back up the wall for a second time was devastatingly hard after completing 36km, but I powered through it still on the adrenalin rush I began the race with – that and about five energy gels to help me along my way.
There were plenty of people struggling to get through this last part of the run and the steps were lined with exhausted and seriously depleted runners. To give you an idea of just how steep and hard this section was, ever kilometre on this part of the wall took about 18 minutes to complete.
Running back into the square and over the finish line was out of this world, I can’t describe how ecstatic I was. I couldn’t believe during and after such a hard marathon I was still feeling energetic and extremely elated.
Even after all the steps, heat, hills and accidental detours, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
I finished in 5:07hrs and with that time managed to come second in my age group (40-44) and was the 17th woman across the line.
Despite all the challenges it was one of the most scenic, beautiful and rewarding runs I have ever done. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Beijing also was a great place for a celebration, that’s for sure!
Simply China: From $2,179 – 9 Days, fully inclusive from Melbourne. For more details contact the team at Warrandyte Travel And Cruise.