Performing the haka on the Great Wall of China was one of the most amazing experiences of Rikki Solomon's life.

He made the 12-hour journey from New Zealand to China with his wife Renee and a group of about 90 other runners called The Influence Crew to complete the Great Wall of China marathon.

"It's in the top five hardest marathons in the world and it was the first marathon we decided to choose," he says with a laugh.

"When we got there we told it was 41C at 9am in the morning but by the time it got to about mid-day it was roasting to about 45C to 46C."


The day before the marathon was due to start the group had decided to check out the wall and it was then that the organisers asked if they would open up the marathon with a haka.

After debating among the group whether it was the right thing to do or not it was decided to accept the invitation.

"Once we made the decision 'let's do it' we went for it. For many of the locals it was the first time they had ever seen a haka."

"The Chinese loved it, we started with a karanga which opened up the event - it went dead silent as soon as the karanga started."

"It was powerful because The Great Wall is also known as the longest cemetery in the world, because of the Chinese in the wall and under the buildings - that's where they buried their dead.

"So when we were doing the haka, you feel the whole wairua [spirit] coming and the whole reverence, and the whole crowd understood the significance of it all."

He says it was beautiful to be there performing one of New Zealand's most well-known haka Ka Mate.

There was 174 Kiwis among the some 2500 marathon runners who took part that day, an event that had a 10-hour time cap to complete.

The Influence Crew was made up of Kiwis and Aussies selected by trainer Doug Healey from about 1500 people who wanted to take part.

The whole kaupapa of the crew was to motivate people to change their lifestyle to be healthy and active.

It was beautiful and then to be on there with a total of 174 Kiwis all up in the marathon.

All up, 2500 did the marathon.

The experience saw them run the 5164 steps on the wall and then climbing up steep ascents before running through villages and dirt roads and being greeted by locals through the townships.

Rikki says it was a great way to see China and their people too.

"It was a mean trip.

"I got a whole new appreciation for the Chinese in terms of I was surprised at how clean and green it was, they've done heaps to try and bring themselves up to international standards."

He says it was the whanau atmosphere that got them through and he would definitely do it again.