Few marathons combine the challenge of off-road terrain with views so awe-inspiring that participants actually stop to photograph their surroundings. The Genghis Khan Mountain Bike Adventure & Grassland Marathon is exactly that kind of marathon.
The competition, also known as the Genghis Khan Festival, lasts three days for mountain bikers (200km) and a single day for runners (42km). Since its debut in 2007, participants ranging from top international competitors to hobby runners have signed up to run through picturesque grasslands in the Inner Mongolian town of Xiwuqi.
As the director of sport for Nordic Ways International and organizer of the marathon, Kris Van de Velde predicts that the event will experience booming growth this year. The festival runs from July 5 to July 7 and already has 550 registrations—the total number of participants last year—and Kris is confident the 150 remaining slots will fill up at lightning speed. Ten ambitious athletes have committed to both the mountain biking and the running events, with the chance of gaining the title “King of the Grasslands.”
Van de Velde knows from his own trail runs how important the proper equipment is to endure the potentially harsh natural elements. Adequate aerobic preparation for the marathon is also crucial. Half marathon participants may be able to survive without training, but the rugged terrain necessitates serious stamina. Kris recommends classes like HeyRunning to get in marathon shape.
The event isn’t all serious business, though. Runners can unwind post-marathon with an after party on Saturday night, and Sunday offers the mountain bikers festivities complete with a hot pot spread. Whether you’re looking to keep pace with the word’s top athletes or simply take in some breathtaking scenery, the Genghis Khan Festival is the athletic event of the summer.
What: Genghis Khan Grassland Marathon
When: July 5-7
Where: Inner Mongolia
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