After being too busy to celebrate 10 years of hiking in Beijing we thought we’d better do something massive for lucky number 13, so we organised a hiking festival!
We planned two trails – a 24.5km Challenge, and a 7.5km Hike for Fun – and then got to work getting it all set up.
And it was quite a lot of work to get it all set up!
The week before the festival we went and cleared the trails to make sure it would be smooth going on the big day. Parts of the long trail went through fairly wild hills where not many people walk, and we had to clear out quite a lot of fallen branches and thorns.
Then, on the day before the event, we went out and marked the trails with our red ribbons.
And then the big day, October 25th!
It was still dark when we set out at 6:30am for the 24.5km Challenge, and when the sun came up we saw it was fairly foggy. Uh-oh! But we could see blue skies overhead.
As we drove out into the mountains the air began to clear. But then we started to drive down into the last valley, and ran right into a thick fog! The fog was so thick we almost missed the turn off for the trail head.
A map of the trails we'd hike for the festival.
Getting ready for the 24.5km Challenge.
Hiking guide Ken sets up the poster that describes the first section of the trail.
Our hike festival was a smoke-free event.
Everyone is all ready to get started.
One of our mini-buses, with the medical support vehicle.
A quick pose with the posters.
Excited to get started!
And they're off!
The first part of the 24.5km Challenge took up us a road and through a small village. It was a steady uphill climb, and as we got higher up the fog began to clear, revealing blue skies and autumn colours in the hills.
We'd marked the trail in advance so people could go at their own speed. Our hiking guides brought up the rear and collected the trail markers so we could use them again another day..
The trail went up the ridgeline, and up to the big hill in the distance.
We followed an old trail over the hill, crossing near some old gold mines. We'd been out in the week before the festival to chop back the branches, and the trail was nice and clear.
Coming down the other side of the big hill we saw pretty autumn colours beside the trail.
Hike for Fun
While the Challenge hikers had been climbing the big hill, the Hike for Fun team had been on the way out and were ready to get started.
Hiking guides Betsy and Frank setting up the starting position.
Hike for fun, ready to go!
On your marks, get set…
The Hike for Fun has begun.
Kendra has been part of the hiking club for almost all of our 13 years.
The Hike for Fun team are on the way.
Beehives on the side of the trail.
Meeting up in the middle
The 24.5km Challenge and the Hike for Fun trails crossed over not far from the start of the Hike for Fun, and the two groups did meet up on the trail.
Just down the road from the start of the Hike for Fun, a family of donkeys were spotted on the 24.5km Challenge trail.
Hiking guides Abu and Betsy at Rest Station B, the beginning of Section 3 of the hike.
Section 3 of the hike took us up – and down! – some steep sections of Great Wall.
The Hike for Fun started about two hours after the 24.5km Challenge and the faster walkers on the Challenge trail had already made good progress, crossing the point where the Hike for Fun would finish. But after that, they still had another 12km and some big hills to climb!
Leading the way on the 24.5km Challenge, three fine fellows who don't look like they've started to sweat yet.
The first four at the 12km mark on the 24.5km Challenge hike.
And number five running to catch them!
A quick snack and drink break before getting into Section Four of the 24.5km Challenge.
Here comes Ben, still looking fresh!
More of the hikers on the Challenge hike.
Jose coming through, not even sweating.
More hikers coming through to the end of Section 3.
Plenty of energy on display.
Nearby, in the Little West Lake Park, about ten minutes from the end of Section 3.
And now at the rest station at the beginning of Section 4!
The BMW team, ready to head into Section 4.
Top two from the Hike for Fun.
Third and fourth.
Coming in at fifth!
A photo at the finish line.
A team of friends on the Hike for Fun.
Fast hikers on the Challenge
Not long after the Hike for Fun finished the fast walkers on the 24.5km Challenge started to cross the finish line at Moss Mountain. They were quicker than we expected!
Here comes Jurgen, at 4 hours 36 minutes the fastest on the 24.5km Challenge.
A close second, and happy to be finished!
Top two of the challenge.
Number one, finishing the 24.5km in 4 hours 36 minutes.
Number two, finishing the 24.5km in 4 hours 38 minutes!
Hike for Fun, almost done
Back at the finish line of the Hike for Fun, we served snacks and drinks for people as they finished.
Tea, coffee, and snacks at the finish line - good work!
More of the Hike for Fun group cross the finish line.
Hike for Fun participants with hiking guide Kevin.
The Hike for Fun is almost done!
Stickers for everyone.
The Hike for Fun is all done.
Celebrating after the hikes
After the group photo for the Hike for Fun participants, we boarded the bus and drove around to the end of the 24.5km Challenge trail, where we'd set up our tables to celebrate, and welcome the 24.5km Challenge participants as they arrived.
Anastasia and Frederic came in third equal on the Challenge, with a time of 4 hours 53 minutes.
Ryan, coming in fourth with a time of 5 hours and 3 minutes.
While the fast hikers were finishing, the other hikers on the 24.5km Challenge were still making their way through the hills.
Climbing a steep trail up to the Great Wall.
The trail followed a short stretch of unrestored Great Wall, and then went down into a leafy valley.
Looking back up to the last tower on the trail.
The long trail went down through the leaves and trees, heading for the Walled Village, the beginning of Section 5.
As the last of the hikers were heading for the Walled Village, more people were finishing the long trail.
Jacqueline in fifth place on the 24.5km Challenge, with a time of 5 hours and 22 minutes.
Congratulations to Jacqueline, one of our superhikers!
The medical support team doing a little work on Frederic's legs.
The big bus with the Hike for Fun participants had arrived at Moss Mountain, and it was time to start the celebration!
Hikers staff, preparing the certificates for the hikers.
Sifan and Konstatin.
The youngest participant, with family and friends. A great effort!
A well-earned beer at the end of the day.
Smile for the camera!
Here's hiking guide Hayden and Driver Yang.
A super-sized Beijing Hikers picnic.
Hare, Hing, and May sharing a drink after the walk.
Chris and Susan.
Inspecting the map with Huijie.
Plenty of everything at the picnic.
Going over the map – some parts of the trail were tough to follow.
Huijie, Marie, and Rezika.
Award certificates and prizes for the top two on the Hike for Fun.
Second place on the Hike for Fun, awarded prizes including hiking vouchers.
Third place, Hike for Fun - more prizes.
Everybody got a certificate of participation.
Hike for Fun, all done!
The snacks table was almost cleared out.
Betsy is writing up the certificates as hiking guides Kevin and Jun supervise.
Three friends began the hike together, and finished the hike together.
Picnic table and hikers.
Hike for Fun crew.
Hike for Fun team photo!
Hike for fun, all done
With the prizes awarded and the certificates handed out, it was time for the Hike for Fun participants to head back to Beijing. But the 24.5km Challenge hikers were still hanging about, some just finished, and some yet to finish!
Hilja and Jurgen.
Completed the Challenge.
Michael and Markus have finished.
Hiking helper Chen with camera.
"I've been waiting for you!"
Relaxing after a long day.
Susi is finished, and so is everyone else!
The HeyRunning team is reunited.
Everyone is finished; now it's time for a beer and part two of the picnic.
The 24.5km Challenge crew enjoy the spoils of victory.
For the winner of the 24.5km Challenge, the prizes!
Second place also receives prizes. First, the certificate.
And then, the prize.
Prizes for Anastasia and Frederic in third place.
Fourth place, Ryan!
Jacqueline in fifth place.
Preparing the presentation of certificates.
The 24.5km Challenge team photo.
And with the team photo taken, it was time to head home.
A great day, and big thanks to all who joined in to help us celebrate our 13th birthday!