Once you’ve finally hiked the Great Wall (whichever section), your awe will dwindle as you say, “This is it?” After all, what’s the point of visiting this ancient world wonder if you think that’s everything you can do there?
A group of expat women in Beijing is set to get wild on this ancient wonder – through trail-running in April 2019. The group, called “Wild Women on the Wall”, follows in the footsteps of Lucille van der Merwe, who recently relocated to Beijing from South Africa. She co-founded the Wild Women on the Run initiative that has been “running” in her native country since 2012.
Van der Merwe told beijingkids that the idea of setting up a Chinese counterpart to the initiative sprung up from a Great Wall hike with her family in 2018. Then she met a local hiking guide who explained the hidden trails of the wall.
Besides this inspiration, van der Merwe said “Beijing expats, especially women, are very involved in helping locals,” explaining that this goes in line with the ethos of the Wild Women initiative: to give back to the community while “creating a fun, non-competitive and nurturing environment for women to go out and have a remarkable multi-day adventure in a place of astounding beauty.”
22 women have signed up for the trail run. Van der Merwe explained that participant size was capped because she and the other organizers want the trail-running to be very “intimate and friendly” while properly managing the logistical requirements.
“Three of the participants are also leading activities that help raise funds for our beneficiaries,” van der Merwe said. One of those participants is Desiree de Wit, who is holding the Spin-A-Thon charity event on January 25 (Fri) at Beijing Riviera Clubhouse.
The event runs for 13 hours from 9am to 10pm, and interested people can sign up for slots of 3 hours for RMB 500. There is a special rate for students or teachers at RMB 300 for a three-hour block from 4-7pm or 7-10pm. All the money raised during this workout party will go to the charities supported by Wild Women.
“Interested people can form a team of two or three people to finish each 3-hour block and share the time to complete the spin-a-thon, or they can ride together and commit to finishing the three hours together,” De Wit said.
The spin-a-thon event is also part of the activities to prepare the 22 participating women for the larger Great Wall trail run, as well as help them raise more money for the Wild Women initiative.
The organizers also make it clear that “all funds raised are donated directly to the selected community projects,” and “each Wild Woman is required to ‘pay her own way’ – none of the sponsorship money is used to fund runners. Every donation, [regardless]of value, makes a direct difference in the lives of these children.”
If you wish to donate to Wild Women, you can visit their website here or contact van der Merwe on WeChat (ID: Lucille_Beijing) If you would like to sign up for the Spin-a-Thon event, contact de Wit on WeChat (ID: desireedewit)
Photos: Courtesy of Desiree de Wit and Wild Women on the Wall