After a 5 month marathon hiatus, I decided to toss my hat back in the fray and registered for the 2016 Beijing Marathon on September 17, 2016. I’m ramping up my mileage so my legs won’t feel like jelly and I’ve started taking the necessary steps to prepare for a trip to China. China is more open to tourists now than ever before, but there’s still quite a bit of planning and paperwork required to travel there.
- Race Registration – the Beijing Marathon hosts about 30,000 runners (across all events) and registration can’t open until proper permits have been obtained. Race registration opened about 60 days before race date and registration was $50 (USD) for foreign participants (I paid through PayPal). You must create a login to register through the website. Use your email as your userid and you’ll get a confirmation code emailed to you for the fourth field.
- Chinese Visa – Beijing allows a 3 day visa waiver (Shanghai allows 6 days), but if you want to stay longer you need a real visa. Try to get the 10 year multiple entry visa (they all cost the same). I paid a service about $60 to get my visa.
- Pollution – the air in Beijing is not always the best for running. I recently ordered a Respro face mask to wear during the race and I plan wearing it during my training for the month and a half. This is basically the mask worn by the bad guy in the last Batman movie. Not great, but it should make for some good photos. I bought the mask on amazon for $40.
- Flights and Hotels – my goal is to put off booking these until as late as possible. I haven’t technically received my visa yet so I’d like to minimize my outlay on the off chance I get denied. I’m flying there in business class on a new airline (fun) and will book a 4 or 5 star hotel the night before and after my race. The rest of the time I’ll be in hostels.
I’m really looking forward to visiting the middle kingdom and this will be my seventh marathon and my first race in China. The weather shouldn’t be too bad and my biggest concern at this point is the air quality. Here’s a quick look at the 2015 course map. Last year the race was a flat point to point with some brutal looking straight shots. I’m assuming it will be similar this year but, since I can’t read it, it doesn’t really matter either way.