With fewer events on this morning, just two different tracks events having heats and three field events their qualifying session, it seemed an excellent day to put in (ha!) a longer run and miss some of the early action. In the event, I got going after 9:30, ran for over an hour and a half and missed the whole session.
I went further this time. Same route, over the road and river then down and round the outside of the U loop, but rather than crossing near the stadium of Vov Gory I continued till nearly out of park, then turned into the park (yes, I am now a tree with herbaceous border) and up the hill. This, then, was sparrow hill, at the top of which we had stood and surveyed the view he previous day and part of Gorky park. The park is long but not deep, and the hill goes up rapidly, but it’s a short sharp sort of a thing rather than a long grind. There are lots of undulating trails, and I came across distance markers suggesting marked courses, though I was heading the opposite way. In a clearing, for me apropos of nothing, were pianos. Five in a group, then a couple more I could see further up. Not playable; there was a sign that probably explains exactly what they are apropos of, but it was no good to me. I couldn’t find a way, at least not quickly, to stay on the trails and follow the river so my options were to head to the road or back down to the promenade by the river. I picked the latter and retraced my steps. The great thing about being forgetful, though, is that even when doing that you come across places you could swear you have never seen before. These steps? That bridge? It was all flat, I’m sure. Each day I’ve run this way before they have been jet washing the railings so I’ve had a little spray to cool me down. Today they had moved on to spray painting them, so I’ve caught some interesting patterns of spotty paint, instead.
A good one, and I headed to the stadium. In a sense, I timed it appallingly, getting there just as everyone left, but today’s inner fanboy had Colin Jackson and Jonathan Edwards leaving which adds them to Cram, Foster, Merry, Ovett and Backley in my British Olympian collection. But I could have lunch (in fact they don’t serve lunch, just breakfast 8:45-13:00, dinner later) and then find a spot in the media centre.
Annoyingly, this was my first visit, so spotting a media race on for 2pm today at 1pm was no good at all. What a place that would have been for my first 800m! I did, though, finally get to grips with my onward travel, booking tickets for the first day of the Boxing Day test, finding that I couldn’t get the ferry to South Korea-it goes on a Wednesday, my visa ends on a tuesday, and I can’t make it for Wednesday week with any stop overs. I could have just gone the full Moscow-Vlad in one, but I’d rather stop. So instead I’m having three nights in each of Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk and then flying from Khabarovsk to Tokyo. The train tickets I booked through Real Russia, as the man in seat 61 (www.seat61.com) recommends. He does also suggest comparing prices across different sites, which would be wise, as would booking a little more than a week in advance. There may be some connection between my booking close to time and not comparing.
The flight from Khabarovsk to Tokyo ends up cheaper and much quicker (2.40 hrs vs 7) than Vladivostock to Seoul or Tokyo; at one point I was in a frustrating loop, where I could fly from either Russian city to Seoul, but only by stopping at the other Russian city. You’d think if the flight from Vladivostock stops at Khabarovsk then you could pick up a direct flight from the latter but no, all the flights I was offered from K stopped at V. Sod it, I’ll go further and directly, then, to Tokyo – 2hrs 40, and from there it’s a short hop back to Seoul if that’s what I decide to do.
Finally, some athletics. On the way I passed a small line of beggars. First a woman with animals, who I only spotted because a kitten was doing its own thing so she picked it up by the scruff of the neck and put it back on its pity podium. Next to her was a crippled lady, without upper limbs. At first I was a little fearful, then I realised she was ar (NO! ed).
In the stadium, I loved the 4x400m heats. The Cubans messed up their 3rd change (he’s got it-nope missed, check, turn, grab) and were run out of it – having led, the change saw them slip to 3rd, and as the next team, Germany perhaps, came up on his shoulder he responded. Unfortunately the need to chase meant both had burned their matches early and slipped down the field on the home straight. It was a slower heat than the others in any case. I headed down to the editing area after that, to see how comedy double act Jim and Ted do the quality control and running order (ha) for the 52 minute highlights programme. Seeing the number of people involved was eye opening, starting with those who log the action, adding keywords so it is all saved on a server in findable format. I was assured, though, that’s it all straightforward. Right, on you go, then. Back to quality control because there I had two sources of entertainment, watching the athletics and then Ted’s stories and semi-professional grumpiness and Jim’s ability to laugh whilst watching action, setting out times to allow for each event and pushing Ted’s buttons. It has also, and this is not the first time this week, nor getting any easier to admit, given me new found respect for my father. I already took his expertise as read, but his ability to commentate, offer expert summation whilst spotting anything significant from whoever finishes 4th as well as the main three is impressive, but adding in the fact that the editors can use him as an example of exactly how to do it, always giving a nice intro to a race that can be edited in, then an out as well, before adding in lengthier analysis must be seriously annoying to others learning the business. Probably not a problem on the beeb, where they show relatively so little athletics that they can just play the whole race again, and they won’t have commentated on more than a handful of jumps and throws so can just bang the commentary on afterwards. Here, they’re covering just about everything, slotting in field event attempts in a quiet moment or track restart, so talking once a result caption has disappeared, or giving a stream of chat as a race finishes and the athletes tie up makes for extra editing work.
Annoyingly good, saves people time and money. Whether enough time to allow Jim and Ted to catch the 10pm bus back I’m not sure. I went and joined the crowds at the metro station and was back by 10.
Summary: 1:33:15, 18.66km.