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Whirlwind of a vacation, by Mike Wojcio

I decided to take a dream vacation mid May until July.  I traveled to 13 countries: Japan, China, Mongolia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Turkey, Italy, Egypt, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, and Russia.  Then I traveled back through China and Japan and to San Francisco, Las
Vegas and back to Maui, Hawaii.
In addition to playing golf seven times (China, Mongolia, New Zealand x3, Indonesia and Russia), I played table tennis with a Chinese woman in a park in Beijing, losing 21 to 9 and 21 to 10 but enjoying it very much. Another highlight was listening to 6 year old Janerkei sing Nordic songs with her father Sayka in a Ger (small home) in Mongolia.
I was also able to run 3 marathons on this 6 week adventure.  One at the Great Wall of China, one in Alpago, Northern Italy, and finally one in central Denmark.
The Great Wall Marathon (May 19th) was very difficult indeed since we had to run on the Great Wall 2 times.  About 15 miles into the marathon 3 Chinese teenagers were fooling around trying to take my Chinese and American flags away from me but I managed to hold on to them.  I should have carried flag pins with me to pass out to them and other Chinese children through various towns we ran through.  I just made the cut off time to go up the wall again (in a reverse route compared to the first time).  However, I was so wiped out I didn’t make the 8 hour cut-off time and qualified for my medal but was not given an official time at the end.  While in China, I did other things like seeing a splendid acrobatic show and also flying to Xian to see the underground warrior statues.
In Denmark in June I finished last in 6 hours and 11 minutes.  I didn’t feel that bad “finishing last” since 22 runners dropped out of the marathon.  Even though this marathon was not like the Great Wall or Alpago it still is the most difficult marathon in Denmark.  I enjoyed staying with a Danish family.  The  host (Halfdan) ran it too.
Finally the Alpago Expo Marathon in Alpago June 17th, Italy was my most difficult marathon of my life!  Now the Great Wall Marathon was very difficult; this one was even harder! I was only able to run 21 kilometers before I was stopped because I did not make the cut off (1/2 marathon time) of 5 hours.  Alpago is indeed one of the most difficult races on earth.  There are 3 hills (mountains) the first
1/2 and it takes so much out of you.  I just crashed somewhere on the third hill through the forest.  I made a mistake of not wearing the trail shoes and fell 5 times…once very hard and I was lucky not to get impaled with my two flags that I carried with me.  Also there were a few rivers we had to cross but that wasn’t the hard part.
At the end of the 1/2 way point there were a lot of Italians who gave me such a wonderful ovation.  I told them I was running for Antonio (who was killed in the Bali bombings in Indonesia about 10 yrs. ago). The 2nd half of this marathon is supposed to be easy, but the first half wiped me out so much I did not mind that they stopped me from going any farther.  All I can say to the Essex Marathoners and Ultra Marathon runners is to try this if they really want a “challenge” in their lives. If you are an excellent runner add on an hour to your time.  If you are a very
good runner add on 2 hours to your time.  You don’t have to run an Ultra when you have this 26.2 mile ultimate test.  Even though I only ran 1/2 of it they decided to give me a medal anyway.  I think it was because I refused to be carried in…It took me an hour to do the last 2 kilometers to the 21 Kilometer 1/2 way point and I made it in over 6 hours (which was about the same time I finished the Denmark Marathon.
Yes, playing golf, running 3 marathons and sight-seeing made this 6 week adventure to 4 continents one that I will never forget.  There were so many things that happened.  I made up an acrostic about the word TRAVELING.  The “A” says it all.. A good attitude when problems arise gives you plenty of latitude- then you’ll survive.

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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