After last year’s thorough and successful revamp, the 2013 Genghis Khan MTB Adventure & Grassland Marathon will largely retain the race courses, in agreement with the local authorities. However, there are a few exciting modifications, too. A brief report from last week’s Technical Mission in Xiwuqi.
Stage 1: Nadamu Arena – Culture Square, 62km/20km
This is the classic course of the Genghis Khan MTB Adventure and has been used since the very beginning in 2007. It is the best possible start of the Festival weekend. At 62km in total it is of medium length and with 600 altitude metres of medium difficulty. The course takes riders from the Nadamu Arena to the statue of Genghis Khan’s horses Siriguleng and Halagatu. The final 6 kilometres have been redesigned and will take an alternative, more narrow and technical trail to the road for the ultimate 1.5 km to the finishline at Xiwuqi Culture Square. Leading competitors may wish to position themselves properly if still riding in a group, and should it be wet – as it was last year on this stage – some prudence in the last descent will be warranted.
New as of this year are the intermediate sprints branded as the Cannondale Cannonball. Every day there will be one sprint-for-cash in the early part of the stage. On stage 1, the sprint finishline will be on a trail drawn at km 4.5.
Stage 2: Culture Square – Mongolian Yurt City, 44.5km/23km
Short and crispy is the best way to describe stage 2 and it is 100% the same as last year. The start is at Culture Square and the finish at the Mongolian Yurt or Tent City, venue of the Welcome Dinner and Bonfire Party later that evening. This stage takes riders past – right past in fact – the impressive mine and then goes via a short but steep hill to genuinely pristine grassland terrain, where there’s hardly any visible trails so watch out for the signs (and the cattle). The conclusion of the stage is flat and straight-forward.
The Cannondale Cannonball sprint will be a hill sprint today. The line is drawn at km 6.5 on top of the treacherous Nadamu Hill!
Stage 3: Culture Square – Culture Square, 100km/42.5km
The big one since last year: a century ride going all around Xiwuqi. Fantastic panoramas, varying terrain and a triple digit at the finish to conclude your weekend and decide the outcome of the race. This year the ride goes clockwise, contrary to last year, which means the most beautiful scenery will be enjoyed in the second half. There are some technical, rocky and sandy stretches between km 30 and 40 that require prudence. The contenders for the stage win and/or overall classification should pay attention to km 82. Arguably the toughest hillclimb of the whole weekend is awaiting the riders and is followed by a twisty and bumpy descent that takes you back on a piece of road where the wind could play its role. Definitely the kind of stretch that can make you win or lose.
The Cannondale Cannonball will reach the finishline at the km 7 point. A flat sprint on a gravel path.
The Genghis Khan MTB Adventure is challenging, but accessible to all. There are some technical bits where the beginning rider might prefer to hop off the bike and walk, but the difficulty is mainly the distance.
Grassland Marathon / Half Marathon / 11.5 Run
In 2012 for the first time full marathon participants were sent deeper than ever into the grasslands. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive so the heart of the route will remain unaltered. New this year is the return to Culture Square, where start and finish is located. Instead of heading for the endlessly long main road at km 37, runners will be directed to a newly discovered offroad trail, which implies that only the final 1.5km will still be run on tarmac road.
The Grassland Marathon is for 39km offroad and for many runners the highlight of their season. It is no walk in the park, though: there are 500 altitude metres to conquer and the wind can be pleasantly cool, but also blowing in your face for quite a while. Therefore you are in wide open nature, and you will rather enjoy the sound of your own breathing than the sound coming out of your iPod.
The half marathon loop is classic and except for the new approach back to town, as described above, remains the same from previous years. Runners on this distance will face a few hillclimbs in the middle part of the race.
The short distance run has been extended from 10km to 11.5km, as it will make for a much more rewarding experience. The extra distance, namely, is offroad around the large Nadamu Arena. As such, beginning runners also have a better opportunity to enjoy the Xiwuqi grassland area.
All runners are recommended to consider bringing along some trail running shoes as well. If the race is dry, as it has always been so far, you can run with traditional running shoes, but if it gets wet a little more grip might be more comfortable.