Saturday, July 26, 2014

Junior World Track and Field Championships - Day 5

Getting down to the wire....two more days and it's back to real life.

Found in the dorm lobby....really, people?

Team Australia came loaded for bear (or kangaroo)...

The aforementioned adorable and continuously babbling Chinese toddler..

Very sad that this sign is even necessary...


4 x 400 relay heats: I got another super critical assignment. Stationed at the 200 meter mark, my main job was to call the order at that point, so the finish line people could properly line up the next runners from the inner lane to the outer.

The first runners stay in lanes for 400m.  
The second runners stay in lane for the first turn, then they can cut to Lane 1. When the runners pass the 200m mark, it's a mad scramble for the finish line people to determine which of the 3rd leg runners start on the inside (and then the rest line up to the outside in running order). So they had two of us at the 200m; one of us reading off the team names as they went past, and the other calling the names to the finish line on the radio.
Did fine, except I called Nigeria 'Jamaica'. The Giz, a much more experienced umpire, caught my mistake.
Very pressure-packed assignment; if the order is incorrect, that's a potential protest. And the runners go by so darned fast, there is zero room for hesitation.
Before we started the afternoon session, we were briefed on this assignment. The big debate was what we'll use for the line that determines the order we'd call out to the finish line.
I innocently asked, "What about the 200m starting line in Lane 1?" Seemed obvious to me, but the international judges had other ideas.
About an hour later, as we transition to the 4 x 400, I notice with very quiet glee that the international judges placed the mark right where I suggested, the 200m start in Lane 1.
I didn't say a word. I just smiled.
Preparing for the second heat, the volume in the stands behind me goes up by an order of magnitude. Team Canada is screaming their fool heads off to support their entry. I walk up to them and say, "You know you're only allowed four people in the relay, right?"
They look confused, until I starting cracking up. They got me back by nearly blowing out my eardrums during the race; so much so that the Giz and I had to move to the infield. Standing side by side, we couldn't hear each other shouting!
Men's 4 x 400 semi is next....I mentioned that the second runner will stay in lanes around the first turn, and then can cut to the inside. When the field comes around, I'm looking for the leader along the rail. But he's nowhere to be found...
Team Nigeria is still out in Lane 4, and he runs the entire 2nd lap out there!!! He added another 7-8 yards to his race, and didn't realize his mistake until he was ready to pass the stick. He finally looked and saw his teammate standing in Lane 1, so my guy had to take a sharp left turn in the last 10 meters. I guess I hadn't seen everything yet...
A tap on my shoulder. Two Italian runners, one male and one female. The male says in broken English that the girl ran the relay and dropped her hairband on the inside of the turn. I walked over and picked it up, and handed it to her while saying, "That'll be ten bucks."
She understood less English than her friend.
Women's 4 x 100m final: USA in a romp, Jamaica takes 2nd. During the victory lap, the Jamaicans stop right in front of me while someone else's national anthem plays. One of the girls hugs her teammates and squeals, "Thank you guys!! You got me a medal!!"
I love track.
Men's 4 x 100m: USA in a romp. Japan 2nd, Jamaica 3rd.
Let me reiterate: Jamaica, home of Usain Bolt, finished behind a team from Japan. I said it once, I'll say it again: don't bet against Asian track. These guys are good. 
A little diversion, because I'm not busy enough this week; I'm running the Eugene Half Marathon on Sunday morning to fine-tune my conditioning for the Portland Marathon in October. Since Sunday's race begins at 0600, and since no nearby coffee shops will be open when I rise at 0300, I filled a cup the night before and taped the hell out of it.
Then I walked to a friend's house, where I finally fell asleep at around 10:30pm. And woke up twice to flush the kidneys....I might be tired tomorrow, but I'll darn sure be hydrated!
More to come...and, oh yes;
I love track.

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