Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Forbidden City Marathon


You could hint that by the title that I had somehow stumbled across another race whilst traveling and that for a few hours I took time off and ran the "Forbidden City Marathon" here in Beijing.

One of the great joys of my job is visiting places that are some of the greatest attractions in the world, people save for years to be able to travel and have holidays in exotic locations. I somehow usually find myself flying in, working insane hours and then try to squeeze in a bit of sight seeing and retail therapy, as we refer to shopping. And as part of my therapy I went out and bought 4 shirts, all fake all great names, all wrapped up to look identical to the real things. Thus four brand name shirts, Armani, Zegna, Polo etc. Trusting that the size neck would ensure a correct fit only to get back to hotel and find that they do not fit my arms, so in a fit of RT frenzy I went back and bought another three this time trying them on. Hey Armani at $6 is a bargain in anyones book.

Anyway back to the marathon, just after dawn yesterday I got up and ran from the hotel down to Tiananmen Square past the famous Mao portrait on the Gate of Heavenly piece and back to the hotel in sub zero temperatures wearing running shorts. Lets say that the locals could not make out if i was mad or that my legs were normally blue.

Later the correspondent on my trip Greg Palkot, on his first trip to China really wanted to see the Square and tour the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is in its own right and incredible place where courtyards the size of small airfields lead onto more temples and more courtyards. On a good day I have walked thru the city in a couple of hours.

Greg I am sure just wanted to get it done and ticked off on his bucket list "Yes I have seen "The Forbidden City". i think he looked at two temples for about a minute and we just bolted thru the city in I am convinced a world record time of 48 minutes. Even when the Secretary of State or the President comes they with no crowds or distractions take an hour complete with posing for Photo calls.

There is a couple of funny points to note though , half the Forbidden City is covered in scaffolding as it gets a face lift for the Summer Olympics and we went thru more "gateways of Heavenly Scaffolding" than real historic gates

and I also noted that the dreaded Sky Antenna was in fact invented by the Chinese back in the 13th Century and looks just as bad back then as it does now on the side of every English house .

And thus Greg can now claim to hold the unofficial world record for the Forbidden City Marathon.