9 questions to discover a marathon : Grassland (Extreme ) Marathon

18 Nov 2009 14:53
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Interview Focus on a race

Ellinor Axner Yin is working as communication coordinator at Nordic Ways. Nordic Ways has over 10 years experience of organizing top sport events in China.

‘We give participants a unique sporting experience in the most beautiful parts of China’

Hello, on July 4th 2010, you’ll be organizing the Grassland (Extreme ) Marathon Can you tell us where it is located?

Grassland Extreme Marathon is held in the small city of Xiwuqi in Chinas Inner Mongolia province. The marathon goes on the grasslands around the city. It is 550km between Beijing and Xiwuqi. The nearest airport is in Xilinhaote, about 2 hours drive from Xiwuqi.


This will be the third edition of the race. Why was it created in the first place?

The race was initially created as an extension to the Genghis Khan MTB Adventure, which is a 3 days Mountain Bike Adventure race organized in Xiwuqi in Inner Mongolia since 2007. After the 1st year’s MTB race we got some ideas from the participants about extending the program and do some more activities on the beautiful grasslands in the area. Even though most runners are not bikers we have been able to attract quite a few people to participate in the 3 days MTB race and then stay another day for at least the half marathon.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The marathon has a new route this year as we have tried to avoid asphalt as much as possible for the runners and really go for the idea of a “grassland” marathon. 90% of the race will be on grass, in a beautiful landscape with both hills and flats. You can even see grazing cattle and horses along the way.

The route starts from the central main square in the city with 1 km on the main road out of the city, passing the participants hotel before going out on sand and grass paths. Most of the roads and paths are quite narrow with just 3-4m in width. The track has some hills, but none of them are steep or long. The hilly parts are mostly in the first seven kilometers, and will for sure spread out the participants a bit. The whole loop is 21 km.

Grassland Marathon

The track itself is harder than most normal marathons because of the sand and grass roads. But that is also why it is worth the trip, we believe this track gives you a special experience that few or none other marathons can match.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We expect at least 1000 runners to participate in the races. So far the race has typically attracted runners that are keen on adventures and participate in a race that is something more than the typical city marathon. The race has already attracted some Nigerian elite runners, so we hope to be able to get together a high class starting field. We believe that this is a great opportunity to see the astonishing natural views of Inner Mongolia while taking part in a Marathon race.

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

In addition to the full marathon, there will be a half marathon and a 10km distance.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

A typical day in the areas around Xiwuqi in the beginning of July is mostly sunny and around 25-27 degrees (Celsius). The sun is strong so it is recommended to wear sun-block. There can also come some quick rain showers, but they usually pass very fast. Suggest that you have a look on the pictures from previous races to get an idea about both the beautiful surroundings and the weather.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

The Grassland Extreme Marathon is connected to the 3 days Genghis Khan MTB Adventure so there will be 4 days of happenings in the city. The local people are very proud to show the local culture with, their traditional clothing and song and dance performances that are typical for the area. In addition to that there will be a food festival on the city square serving local specialties.

The marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Xiwuzhumiqin Qi before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

First of all, relax in the area around the city square and try the local Mongolian restaurants. You can also go to Genghis Khan Imperial City some kilometers outside the Xiwuqi, a facility where you can stay in Mongolian tents, ride horses and watch traditional wrestling shows, plus enjoy good food!

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Grassland Marathon?

Experience the greatness of nature while taking on the ultimate physical challenge!

Thank you Ellinor
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