Kirkcaldy man takes on Great Wall as part of marathon challenge

Jim trained on the coastal path, and has been raising funds for the FCCT to help maintain it. Pic: Mark Runnacles
Jim trained on the coastal path, and has been raising funds for the FCCT to help maintain it. Pic: Mark Runnacles

A Kirkcaldy man has travelled all the way to the Great Wall of China for a marathon challenge, after training on Fife’s Coastal Path.

Jim Taylor (57) set himself a mammoth challenge to complete the A-Z of marathons.

Jim Taylor training at the Harbourmasters Steps in Kirkcaldy, before embarking on the Great Wall of China Marathon in May (Photo by Mark Runnacles)

Jim Taylor training at the Harbourmasters Steps in Kirkcaldy, before embarking on the Great Wall of China Marathon in May (Photo by Mark Runnacles)

He has already completed A-F, including Athens and Dundee, and Florence - and in May, found himself in Ying Yang square with over 2,000 fellow runners ready to tackle one of the world’s toughest races ,The Great Wall of China Marathon.

Jim, a former librarian prepared for The Great Wall - the ‘G’ in his personal challenge - and its staggering 5,164 steps, by training on Fife’s famous Coastal Path.

And running on the scenic route inspired him to run the marathon in aid of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) to help towards the ongoing maintenance of the path.

He said: “Running the coastal path definitely helped as the wall wasn’t flat. It followed the contour of the mountains.

As a Scot, I am not used to 32 degrees!

Jim Taylor

“I never knew what to expect.

‘‘People said it was so hard. I’ve done a lot of hill running in Scotland but that didn’t prepare me for the heat”.

Although the coastal path proved to be the perfect preparation for the Great Wall with similar uneven terrain and numerous steps, it couldn’t have prepared Jim for the soaring temperatures, as the 2015 marathon was one of the hottest on record with some runners even falling to their hands and knees crawling sections of the race.

“The biggest challenge was the heat - 32 degrees!” he said. “It was the hottest year since it first started 16 years ago. Obviously, as a Scot I am not used to this kind of temperature!”

But Jim found the support from locals to be a great boost to his motivation.

“After the first part of the wall you then go out into countryside and run through villages, people were giving you high fives and cheering you on.”

He completed the race in an impressive five hours 54 minutes and came fourth in his age group.

After a few days recovery in Beijing and a quick stop over to cycle through Vietnam in preparation for his next challenge, La Marmotte, Jim returned to Fife.

He is now putting together a team for the Scottish Long Coastal Relay in October. The 116 mile race takes place along the coastal path and will see Jim compete in a team of six.

Amanda McFarlane, chief executive of FCCT told the Press: “Jim is an inspiration. It is great to know that running the Fife Coastal Path stood him in good stead for the Great Wall of China marathon and we are extremely grateful for his fundraising efforts.”

You can still donate on Jim’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fitfifertraining/