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Newsround’s Joe Tidy: “The Panda made me run the Great Wall of China”


Joe Tidy, presenter and reporter on BBC Newsround, recently ran a marathon in China to raise funds for WWF. He tells us how it went, and how running for the Panda (and even wearing a panda vest and hat!) spurred him on…

Rocking the panda headgear… © Joe Tidy

“It almost broke me, and I’m still not fully recovered, but running the Great Wall marathon is the best thing I have ever done.

The Great Wall marathon is a 26.2 mile race on and around the Great Wall of China, with more than 5,000 steps. You start at the bottom of a valley in Huangyaguan, north-east China. When I got there I realised how tough it was going to be as I gazed up at the ancient wall winding its way hundreds of meters into the sky. I would have to tackle a four kilometre section of this twice – once at the start of the race and again at the end.

© Joe Tidy

It didn’t disappoint. The views were incredible, and it was all gravy for the first 16 miles or so as I ran through the villages and made local kids laugh with my panda hat. The support was fantastic, and running in the WWF vest went down really well amongst fellow runners, who took a lot of pictures of my red and sweaty face!

At about mile 17 I started to get a bit tired and felt an old injury in my leg coming back. My running partner got a bit cross as I began to slow down but we made it to the wall for the final assault.

That’s when I really struggled. It hurt to even lift my leg 6 inches let alone climb more than 2,000 steps! I almost collapsed but my friend Chris pulled me through and we relished the last 5km which were downhill (hurray!).

Finished! © Joe Tidy

I’ve done three marathons and lots of triathlons before but this was the hardest thing I’ve done. But also the best – especially as I got 100% of the fundraising target for WWF. I found it quite hard to raise the £750 target I set myself, but the team at Newsround were great and did a bake-off to get a bit of money in – thanks!

I ran the race for WWF because I think the work they do is so important. As an animal lover and Newsround presenter, I’m always reading about conservation projects around the world. We also cover a lot of panda stories on the show too! I suppose some of that stuck, so I’m really pleased and proud to say The Panda Made Me Do It.”

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