WC final day

WC final day
Dolgoprudny, Russian Federation

Dolgoprudny, Russian Federation

As the championships draw to an end there’s a definite feeling of a gear shift, as we leave morning sessions behind and have just an afternoon one. It starts earlier, with the first medal ceremony at 3.40, but that still left time for a slow start to the day.

Italy's relay team warm up on the practice oval
Italy’s relay team warm up.

I set my stall out early for a lie in, stubbornly refusing to wake up for good even when it seemed everyone else was up and out. In the event, I later met Aden and he had only gone for a shower before more sleep, so I was only in silver for laziness. I headed out for a run around 11, and it was hard work from the start. I stayed on the inner ring, thinking to cut across the front of the stadium but found that it was possible to just run through the barriers and keep to the river bank, along a two lane cycle/rollerblade path. I had passed three female runners going the other way, one of whom waved at me, but I didn’t recognise any in the 800 final later on. I still reckon two of them for pro athletes out for an easy one. By three miles in I was moving, at least, and it was a lovely sunny sunday, worth staying out in. I decided I’d go across the river at Vorobyovy gory, but that was behind security so I had to keep going to the next, glass bridge, which looks the same so I assume it is opposite the one I had used to cross the river near the hostel on other days. I ran back past sparrow hills again, pushing on a bit to pass a runner who grunted and tried to come with me, and then some bladers closed on me but weren’t pushing it, so I allowed myself to keep accelerating as they did to get in a faster mile. About halfway in they went properly ahead, but then slowed and I closed, feeling pretty good about my pace-low 6s, for sure. Just then another runner came floating by, on the road to my path, making it look easy. I passed him a few hundred metres further on, so I suspect he was doing intervals but still, he must have kept to a decent pace to have stayed close enough to me that a rep was quick enough to go past. I eased off, or, more, came to a crashing slowdown, after a mile and a half. A bit short for a tempo, need to fix that, but I think I have been a bit under the weather this week in any case. With the route being a bubble-written U, doing the inner and outer side of the river bend, it came to just about 11miles, which makes for about 35 for the week; okay. Even better, at least to me, I tried sticking the garmin connector on the hostel computer and it worked, so I was able to transfer all my workouts into garmin connect, and clear the watch. It was hardly critical, but good for my head to clear something out.

Commentators preparing to leave for a party
Rob head for the booze but is startled by conversation.

I picked up drinks at the local unfriendly shop but didn’t eat and so was starving and fading by the time I got to the IAAF lounge. Score there, though, as they had pasta. Can’t complain, but some days it has been all meat, some days all potato and veg, today was just what I needed. Wolfed that and was in the stadium for the second medal ceremony and on to the action. Something that has surprised me is just how many families seem to be involved. It’s particularly noticeable amongst the sprinting brothers and sisters, and I tried to spot them in the relay teams; the Georges of Nigeria, Sprungers of Germany, Borlees of Belgium. Marriages perhaps make pairings of good athletes less unlikely (in that as an elite athlete you hang around with elite athletes), but it is still cool that the javelin bronze medallists are married (the lady, Abumakova, was the world leader coming in, and threw furthest in qualifying, so was disappointed, but did comment that at least they were synchronised), as are the silver heptathlete and the gold decathlete, Thiessen-Eaton and Eaton. There’s a good article on the guardian site, arguing that he is the greatest athlete in the world.

View from close to the track
I took a wrong turn and ended here. My pass let me be here, but the fuzziness of the photo shows how furtive I felt.

With the speed, excitement and chaos of the relays, it ended, though with the usual confusion for the Brits. Apparently the men had been on the verge of heading to the medal ceremony when told they were disqualified, though Ellington seemed to know he had gone out of his box, with no less a judge than Michael Johnson spotting it. Dad wondered if it was payback for the Brits’ tendency to point out others’ transgressions and get them disqualified, but they continue to do so-the French women were full of bounce on the medal rostrum, but were later disqualified at the Brits’ behest, the latter finding out about their medals just before the party.

I didn’t see Johnson on the beeb, of course. No, instead I left the stadium with dad and followed, saying goodbye to various people and then heading to the bus stop to say goodbye to others. Only two people waiting there; Christine, the only one on the radio team I hadn’t met, was chatting to Michael Johnson. Or, as it went in my head “bloody hell, that’s Michael flipping Johnson!” Dad was introduced, Christine introduced herself to me and we had a lovely chat before I finally managed to find a second to introduce myself to the man. “John”, I said. “Michael”, he replied, redundant-but-modestly.

Official pass and daily programmes
TV crew. Ha.

Although it was sad that the thing was over – I didn’t feel I could show up at the party as a hanger on – that was one pretty cool last act, and I strolled back to the hostel trying to switch my head from ‘end of adventure and no more chats with that lot’ to ‘new adventure and am I set?’

Summary: 1:30:15, 17.66km, bye bye Moscow, bye bye commentary team, bye bye walking past elite athletes and saying ‘excuse me’ etc to Phil et al.

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