Steppin’ up for the Great Wall

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Treading up and down 5164 steps for China’s Great Wall Marathon won’t be foreign for two gutsy Wakatipu women. 

To prepare for the gruelling May 19 event, friends Emma Hill and Paula Rogers have been re­creating their own 
version of the world-famous steps around Queenstown. 

For starters, the runners have been tackling the stairs at Frankton’s new Remarkables Primary – doing them about 50 times in a single session. 

Hill has also done the stairs at The Hills Clubhouse, near Arrow­town, owned­ by her dad, jewellery mogul Sir Michael Hill. 

This week the duo spent more than an hour traversing Queenstown’s Brecon Street steps – Hill counted out 6100 for good measure. 

Hill, 39, started long-distance running when moving to Vancouver, Canada, to work for her dad in 2002. 

“Long distance is a great stress relief,” she says. “Once you run over two hours, it’s like meditation.” 

She’s no stranger to marathons, running at events in New York, San Diego and Chicago in the United States. 

In 2009 Hill trained for Chicago – where she notched her best time of 3 hours 50 minutes – by pushing her two-year-old twins in a mountain buggy round Lake Hayes. 

On the premise that Great Wall runners take half as long again as their marathon time, Hill’s picking six hours, “unfortunately”. 

She’s also tipping Rogers will beat her. 

Rogers, an office support worker, jibs: “I would not call it, personally. 

“I’m five years older than Emma, so she should be beating me – she’s a bloody chick.” 

Rogers has completed six- and 12-hour orienteering events but never a marathon. 

“This is Emma’s fourth so she has that basic memory in her muscles and in her mind on how to get through it.” 

Rogers says she loves running: “We live in such a gorgeous place – you might as well get out and run.” 

Queenstowners Rachel Rose, Bert Chandler and Mike Davies completed the Great Wall Marathon in 2008.