The First Marathon on China's Great Wall



Great Wall

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The Badaling section of the Great Wall where
we ran our marathon.

Photographs and Newspaper accounts by Reuters Wire Service, Associated Press, The China Daily, (the major English Newspaper in China) were seen throughout the world.

Conquering Hero: Dick Molen and his wife Jan run on top of the Great Wall of China yesterday as he completes his 26-mile.... Molen beat cancer and says his next quest is to climb Mount Everest. -The Boston Herald Monday-August 5, 1985-. Associated Press

Boston Herald Monday August, 5 1985


American Dick Molen, who over came cancer and ran the Boston Marathon, conquered a new challenge today by running more than 41 km on top of the Great Wall of China near Badaling.-Jeff Bradley South China Morning Post, Beijing, August 4 1985- Associated Press.

"No one has ever done anything like this before...", "We didn't see a soul except for a helicopter that flew over the top of us a couple of times." -Dick Molen


Last August, the former football pro and his wife, Janice, became the first people known to have run a full marathon on top the Great Wall of China. -Joe Henderson, Runners World, June 1986
Runner's World

Alive and Well
by Joe Henderson

In the spirit of revisiting past stories, here's an update on Dick Molen. Exactly one year has passed since the magazine first told of this Carmel, California man who beat a cancer death sentence to run a 2:51 marathon. The best news is that Molen, now 55, remains healthy and active nearly eight years after the "terminal" illness was diagnosed.

"I've never had any recurrence of the cancer," he says, "and I stay away from doctors."

Last August, the former football pro and his wife, Janice, become the first people known to have run a full marathon on the Great Wall of China. "It was a tremendous challenge," Dick tells reporter Jerry Shaw. "There were areas of the wall that were caved in completely. We'd slide down 50 feet, then climb back to the other side to carry on."

It's all uphill from here. "Now we are embarking on a new adventure, which will be most challenging," says Dick. "We are going to attempt to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents, ending with Mount Everest. When we reach the summit of Everest, my wife will be the oldest person [she'll be 56, slightly older than Dick] ever to have reached it and the first American woman."

They started with Mount Kilimanjaro. Next comes Europe's tallest mountain, Elbrus, in the Soviet Union.

At the same time, plans are in the works for a movie on the Molens' recent years. Gary Lockwood, who played an astronaut in 2001, has agreed to produce the film.

Terminally ill patients see hope in Dick Molen's story, and have frequently come to him for advice since the RW article appeared.

"I'm not a doctor or a guru," he says. "But I tell them to concentrate on three things. Mental attitude is first. Change your diet is second. And the third is getting some kind of exercise."