Training in Ningbo's central business district

May 8, 2013, by Robert Avery-Phipps

Training for the Great Wall part two

As I’ve got more confident I have branched out in my training not only with distance but diversity. My favourite run takes in the stark contrast between urban and rural China. My apartment is literally on the edge of the city, as within the space of 500 meters the bright lights, modern streets and posh cars of the city transforms into a totally different landscape. The first part of my run goes through a newly built business centre with very impressive modern buildings. However, within less than two miles the backdrop of skyscrapers seems totally out of place as I run past a man on a cart being dragged by an ox!

It’s really fun to run in the rural areas because I get to see a part of China that is easy to miss or ignore in daily life. I guess I must be one of the few foreign people to ever go through these areas. The reactions of some of the locals entertain me. Usually the old people will appear to not even notice me. From my observations they tend to walk in a bit of a day dream so I guess I may just fit into part of their day dream. Some of the younger people will wave and shout: “he-lo, ni-ce too me-te yu!” Some of the bolder kids will run or cycle alongside me for a while. I wish I could speak better Chinese, I would love to chat with them!

 Meeting the locals on my regular running route

The worst bit of this run is the dogs. They don’t seem to bark or chase anyone else but as soon as they catch a sniff of me they go crazy. One will sound the alarm and then suddenly an army of others will come from nowhere all showing their teeth. I find this is good sprint training as twice I have had to make a quick U-turn in the road as a pack of dogs shepherd me out of their territory. Not one of the owners call their dogs back, instead they just stand chuckling! To be fair, it must look pretty hilarious!

Running through rural Ningbo

So with less than two weeks to go before the marathon I am stepping up my training to try to ready myself, but I fear that nothing will fully prepare me for the challenge ahead! At the end of the day, I see the race as a fantastic opportunity to explore China’s most famous landmark. So although it may be a bit uncomfortable at times it will be fun (I hope)!

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