Introducing the track
Marathon, half-marathon and fun run – all three tracks are designed to let you enjoy a professional, convenient and safe running experience, but also inspiring views of the local culture, architecture and nature. By integrating many of the local attractions in the tracks we made sure the Great Hakka is not only ‘a perfect run’ but also ‘a lot of fun’.
0-4 Km (Marathon and Half Marathon, Fun Run)
We start the race in front of the scenic Yuchanglou, one of the oldest Hakka houses in the area, right in the village of Xiabanliaocun (下版寮村). From here the route heads straight north along Provincial Highway S309. As the route passes through Xiabanliao village you will notice a square Hakka House or tulou on the right and one of the iconic, round Hakka Houses on the left. Exiting Xiabanli Village the highway follows a wide valley with the river on the left. On both sides you will have great views of the mountains and terraced fields. While Taxia is at a slightly lower elevation than Yuchanglou, you will be facing some sections on uphill running during the gradual descent.
As you approach Taxia Village the valley narrows and the road will follow the river closely. Watch out for the series of speed bumps at the approach to the village. While they are meant to slow down cars they can easily trip up an eager runner. Having passed the speed bumps, a small, open parking lot where we will have a water station, and a public toilet the route continues into Taxia with low village houses on the left and the river on the right. The river and the road make a sharp turn to the right through a narrow part of the valley. Notice the small shrine on the left, and a bridge leading across the river to a small pavilion on the right. Having passed this turn we enter the central part of Taxia.
The villagers in Taxia will be out in numbers to watch the runners of the first Great Hakka Marathon passing through the village. Taxia is located on both sides of the river in a narrow section of the valley and we will be crossing the river more than once. Heading through Taxia you will pass several Hakka houses, some round but the majority square. This is the dry and cool period during the year. When you run through Taxia it is worth knowing that during the wet periods the village sees regular flooding.
4-8 Km (Full and Half Marathon, Fun Run)
Exiting Taxia the road continues North, now with the river on the left of the road. The road is now gradually descending towards the village of Qujiang (曲江村) which lies at the intersection of the main East-West route that passes through the area, County Road X562. As we enter the village of Qujiang we pass a cluster of Hakka houses and the Qujiang Primary School.
Leaving Qujiang continuing downhill we ross County Road X562 and continue straight North. On the right you can see the Hekeng tunnel. Having passed the intersection we can see a number of large, round Hakka houses, some old, some built as late as the 1970s showing for just how long this building tradition has been in use. The road circles around Hekeng. Participants in the Fun Run will turn left into Hekeng and head for the finish line. Participants in the Full and Half
8-16 Km (Marathon, Half Marathon)
From Hekeng Full and Half Marathoners continue along the county level road heading towards the Town of Meilin. The road heads in a general Northerly direction following the wide valley and the river. After approx. 2 km we turn left, off the main road, entering the village of Shiqiao (石桥村Stone Bridge Village). Following narrow lanes we will experience a variation of cobbled and unpaved road surfaces. In the village, we will circle one of the largest Hakka houses in the area before exiting Shiqiao and continue North along the county road.
Two km further North we will again detour into one of the villages before passing another famous Hakka house in the area: Bixing Lou. Shortly after Bixinglou we enter the village of Beiling which offers yet another detour through traditional village scenery on narrow village lanes. Watch your step on the uneven surfaces and take your time to take in the local village scenery which remains as it has been for hundreds of years.
Until now marathon and half marathoners have followed the same course but now the time has come to part ways. As we leave Beiling Village HALF Marathoners will turn left and run south along the main road leading back towards Hekeng village. Marathoners will turn right and continue north.
16-21.1 Km (Half Marathon)
We now follow the county road back towards Hekeng. The road will gradually be ascending as we head back towards Hekeng passing on the way the villages we have experienced up close before, but know remaining on the main road.
Half Marathoners will circle Hekeng taking in yet another Hakka house before crossing the finishing line.
16-17 Km (Marathon)
Meilin is a county level town and the largest town we will encounter on the race. After a short climb out of Beiling Village we into the town we will experience a rural Chinese county-level at its best. After a short climb out Beiling Village we leave the main road for a short decent along an unpaved access road which takes us down into into Meiling town. After a short loop into town which takes us through several Hakka Houses we meet the river which we followed for the first part of this race. We follow the course of the river for a few hundred meters before crossing via a low foot bridge and heading back towards the centre of Meilin. Passing an old temple we meet the main road and take a sharp right through the centre of Meilin past the police station and several stores.
Climbing out of Meilin we will follow the main road which for just over 4 kilometers towards Huangtian.
17-21.5 Km (Marathon)
The next four and a half kilometers will follow the county road without any detours. As we climb out of Meilin the valley opens up. The road runs above the valley floor and we will have wide vistas over primarily rice fields to the river and the villages which are mainly located along the river but on the opposite side. While the difference in elevation between Meilin and Huangtian isn’t big, the road will climb and drop following the mountains.
21.5-24 Km (Marathon)
At approx. 21 km we leave the highway for a tour through villages and rice fields. From this point onwards we will be running on village roads and country trails. As we leave the main road we pass through a small village before crossing a small river. Having crossed the river we follow a dirt road which skirts a mountain on the left and with some great views over a small reservoir, rice and tea filds on the right. After a short while we leave the dirt road for a small track through the fields. After approximately two kilometers on trails we enter a village and the famous area around Yunshuiyao.
24-33 Km (Full Marathon)
Entering the scenic area of Yunshuiyao we cross the Lijie River along a series of concrete stepping stones. Over the next 8 kilometers we will be passing some of the most famous Hakka Houses in the area.
Once across the river we turn right and head north on the cobble stone path along the river. Circling through a village and passing the famous Huaiyuan Hakka House before returning towards the famous old Banyan Trees where we cross the river again, this time following a solid concrete bridge. For the next kilometer, we will follow a cobbled walkway right next to the river. The surface is uneven so watch your step, take it easy and enjoy the amazing scenery among ancient villages and rice fields.
Leaving the river we will pass yet another village before reaching a level concrete road which takes us pass the main parking lot and towards the village of Kangxia where we will circle around the core of the old village, again following narrow villages lanes with a variation of road types from concrete over cobbled to unsealed. Watch out for holes, chickens and the occasional little dog. Coming out of the village we return to the concrete road, retrace our steps along the concrete road the way we came before making a u-turn and running towards another famous Hakka House – Defeng Lou. From Defeng Load we climb up to the main road which we follow back into Yunshuiyao.
33-42.195 Km (Marathon)
From Yunshuiyao Scenic area the track follows the old road to Hekeng climbing steeply up the mountain. Over the next 3 km the course will follow a narrow pathway used by the local farmers to transport the tea harvest down, climbing from an altitude of 450 m to 751 m before descending towards Hekeng.
As we climb don’t forget to take in the amazing vistas of the surrounding countryside – while of course minding your step on the uneven surface. As we gain altitude we enter the tea fields where the local green tea is grown. After approx. 2 km the concreted road gives way to unsealed trails.
Having crossed the ridge, we continue through tea fields as we descend towards Hekeng Village. Halfway down the unsealed trail gives way to a narrow road, used by local farmers to transport tools and the harvested tea, down the hills to the villages.
As we arrive in Hekeng we turn right making a loop through the village and making a tour inside the last Hakka House before heading down through the village to the finish line.
The mountain section becomes extremely slippery in wet conditions. In case of rain we will shorten the section in Yunshuiyao and return to Hekeng along an alternative route
Download Track Map
Marathon, half-marathon and fun run – three demanding but beautiful and diverse routes, that offer runners wonderful views of nature, culture and people along the track – motivating them at every step of the race … especially when the legs start to get really heavy.
All three routes have been planned and designed to ensure that participants will have both a professional, convenient and safe running experience, as well as inspiring views of the local culture, architecture and nature.
By integrating many of the most the remarkable local sights and attractions into the routes, we wanted to make the Great Hakka Marathon not only ‘a perfect run’ but also ‘a lot of fun’. Have a look at the track maps to get an overview.