Dolgoprudny, Russian Federation
I was relaxed about my start today, wanting to get a run in and not get out of bed enormously early. I set off around 8.30 and crossed the river. If the stadium is at the bottom of a U shape caused by the river, the hostel is near top left, so crossing allowed me to run down the left edge all the way to the parkland that borders the ‘sparrow hills’ area. The mascot is a sparrow, maybe relatedly. The distances here are huge, great long roads-the equivalent distance on a map of Helsinki might be 5 minutes walk, here it is 10 minutes run. Pedestrian crossings give you a countdown and I nearly didn’t make one the other day across Smolensky Boulevard – it felt easy enough to halfway till I realised I had somehow only 5 of 30 seconds left and 5 lanes of 9 (it’s 9 lanes on both sides) still to cross.
The run was similar. I only ran down to the river, along a bit while waiting to cross the road then crossed the river and had already covered a mile. Staying this side of the river, the stadium is under 2 miles away, but by the time I was opposite it on the other side of the wide river I was over 3 miles in. I crossed at Vorobyovy Gory station which has a bridge running alongside the station. It’s the most convenient for the media entrances, but I came out of the wrong side yesterday and wondered what all the parkland was. That at least primed me for my crossing today. I continued, 5 miles in, along the front of the stadium, encouraged by some spectators. Well, who knows who I might be? I wasn’t running particularly well, until I spotted a group of athletes coming towards me, warming up for the 5 grand-couple of Australians and one gb vest, though I don’t know who he was, given that only Mo was going for us. I passed another group, again multinational, which kept me thinking about my form, trying to look the part.
Once I was done and showered I didn’t make it to the station till 10.16. First 5000 heat at 10.20, oh well. I didn’t rush, catching the second tube and reading on the way. An elderly supporter next to me went to exit at Sportivnaya, recommended for spectators, and was stopped by a local, who wanted him to get the next one. I guess it is slightly more convenient for most, and he took it in good part. I took the time to pick up some water and a daily programme and made it into the stadium. Oh look, Farah and Rupp lining up. Sometimes life works with you. With five to go through plus five fastest losers both were in a group of five that moved away from the rest and qualified looking comfortable as the front three, two Kenyans and an Ethiopian, raced off to the finish. The women’s 20km walk finished on the track too, slightly chaotically. Russians were 1,2,3 coming into the stadium, with cones marking off for them to do one lap outside the cones and 3/4 inside. But there was no finish marked so the first placer held hands up and stopped once she crossed the line and had to be rushed on, with 2nd closing, while 3rd place came into the stadium and stopped, looking round. Next time I looked she had pulled out, with china taking bronze, though it is possible the Russian has just heard she was disqualified. That was the track action done, though still with high jump and triple jump qualification and the heptathlon javelin throw going on for action left, right and centre. Rumours that US high jumper Erik Kynard plans to call his son Far are unconfirmed.
The evening session was packed with finals, though spotting a male Spanish discus thrower called Jennifer in the final nearly topped it all. Is there a Spanish Johnny Cash? The Russian walkers’ gold and silver got a huge cheer, but that for Sergey Bubka, presenting the pole vault medals, was greater, topped only by the reception for Isinbaeva. It got louder through the evening as others fell by the wayside and once the track races were moved out of the way. The 400 seemed odd, James nowhere near it, and the two 800s were exciting in different ways. Huge PBs from all three heptathletes in the hunt for bronze meant it went to Schippers, who held third beforehand but was the slowest of the three. She finished behind Johnson-Thompson and Rath but was near enough to stay ahead overall.
Then Isinbaeva. She fouled once each at different heights on the way up but then cleared 4.82 comfortably and was the only one clear at 4.89. Cue raucous celebrations, but there were still medal ceremonies and the like to finish us off. She knows how to manage a big moment, though, and took on a world record height, given 5 minutes for each attempt, which made sure she had the stage to herself. She didn’t clear, but could then do a lap of honour, plus several cartwheel-back flip combos, while her song (! Lyrics not testing, ‘Isinbaeva…Isinbaeva’ repeat to fade) played over the pa. If she retires I guess she’ll find some way to stay in the public eye. She was the only athlete I’ve yet seen in an in field interview who took the microphone rather than just talk into it. It’s possible she might be a bit of a diva if not given centre stage, mind.
Summary: 1:05:12, 12.66km.