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Wykes - Edinburgh World Cross experience - admin - 16-04-2008

In the 2nd of Dylan Wykes' articles he discusses Edinburgh and his World Cross experience

Arrived in Edinburgh and got shuttle to the University of Edinburgh.

Went out for a run with some of the other team members, pretty much immediately upon my arrival. Our team attache (Ross, easily the fastest of all attaches with a 3:41 (1500m) PB) took us to a park not far from the Uni (The course was closed).

We ran through the streets on the way down. A few of the team members had close calls, with the cars being on the other side of the road!

Got in an easy 65 minutes of running. Most of the team did some sort of workout. Everyone seemed to be adjusting well. It was nice to meet the guys on the team that I did not previously know. I was dying for #2 on the run, but the park was far too public to just shimmy up beside a tree. So, I found a public toilet on the outskirts of the park. I was envisioning the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene from Trainspotting as I plowed into the stall. Luckily it probably didn't even rank in the 100 worst toilets in Scotland.

After the run and some lunch in, I did a little sight seeing in the afternoon with some of the other guys on the Sr. Mens team. We went to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.

[Image: edinburgh.300.jpg]

First thing that occurred to me is how old the city is. Living in North America it is easy to forget how many more years of history there is in European countries. Just seeing a plaque that reads is remarkable, nevertheless an actual building built at that time. I was dead tired, but knew if I didn't get out I would sit in my room and fall asleep. But, I lost steam by the time we got to the Castle, so I just took a few pictures (which of course did not turn out great) and then headed back to relax.

Our accommodations are pretty standard. I was excited when the man driving me from the airport to the University told me these residence halls were originally built for the Commonwealth Games . For some reason I was thinking the 2002 Games (which were actually in Manchester, England) but he was talking about the 1970 games! So my excitement of staying in some modern residence was quickly thwarted.

We all have single rooms with tiny beds. I feel like I am back in University again, with my feet hanging over the edge of the bed. I have managed to get good nights sleep though, so I guess it can't be all that bad.

There isn't a nice common area in our hall. So, a lot of time is spent hanging out in the cafeteria after meals, chatting about a variety of things, including the state of AC and the Cross Country Program. Unfortunately we haven't managed to solve all our shortcomings as of yet.

10.30 team run (let's make that 11:00 hold on, no make that 11.30!)

Getting 30 odd people (4 teams) to do the same thing at the same time is proving to be a bit tough, and somewhat comical. I don't envy Dave Christiani and Thelma Wright in their roles as team coach/leader.

The team was supposed to meet to train at 10.30, but it didn't end up happening until 11.30 because half of the team got selected for doping screens.

We ran down to the course (only about 10-15minutes jog) and did get on the course a bit even though it was still being constructed.

[Image: edinburgh.course.300.jpg]

I was surprised and happy to see that it wasn't complete muck and there is very little possibility that it will be. Besides the big hill the course is pretty forgiving (the Scots went soft on us!) I ran an easy 55 minutes and then did some strides with the spikes on, and then jogged back UP to the University. I felt good, and did the strides with the wind, which felt amazing!


The traditional team skits occurred on Friday night. There were some good ones (considering we only gave the rookies 20 minutes to put things together). Our team attache Ross did a great job conducting the interviews for the Juniors world records/first time! Some of the skits played on our inability to understand Ross' Scottish accent at times. I must say the Scottish accent is thick. But, my best friend's parents are Scottish, so I've had a but of practice, listening hard, and have picked up on some of the slang. I've also lived with a crew of Irish and New Zealanders since moving to Providence, so hearing different accents doesn't really phase me at this point.

The Draft

I was looking forward to meeting some kids from a local school who adopted Canada as their nation for the world cross. But, with the help of some team staff I managed to get the time wrong and totally missed it. The highlight of the day, should be studying up on the senior men's field. Not to figure out who my competitors are, but to try and when the draft/pool/fantasy league, which is a tradition of senior men's teams. We each pick a team of 9. The order of picks is drawn at random. Obviously everyone is going to pick some Ethiopian or Kenyan in the first round, or two. But, knowledge of the random 13:10 guys from Algeria and such may be important knowledge for some of the later picks. There is also the conundrum of whether to pick one's self for the Fantasy team?

This took ages. There were 13 of us picking 9 guys each from a list of 220 names. Needless to say it took a while. I drew the 9th spot to pick, so didn't get any of the big guns. I am not confident in my squad. I only got 1 Kenyan and 1 Ethiopian. I picked a Tanzanian Fabian Joseph and was later told Tanzania wasn't able to get there! So one of my big guns, who I hoped for top 10 is gone.

Postscript; my team failed miserably. I did not even bother tallying my points as I had to scored two guys who were in the 80's, and the top score at that point was Hutch with around 180. Oh well, it was a bit of fun.

The Race

[Image: edinburgh.race.300.jpg]

WOW! The race was probably one of the most painful, longest and worst experiences of my running career.

I felt like something was a little tight in my stomach on the warm up. I just figured it was a bit of gas and if I went to the toilet before the race I would be ok. But, things just got progressively worse.

My plan was to go out fairly conservative and to try and keep a few of the Americans and Australians who I was familiar with, within reach. I got out better than expected and was maybe a bit too far up. But I quickly found my good friend (and house mate for 1 week before heading to Scotland) James Carney and a few other Americans coming past.

I hung on to them, but was conscious that my stomach was going to be a problem. Soon into the second lap the cramping started to really hinder my running. By the third lap I was consistently and constantly losing places and feeling terrible. Breathing became difficult.

The only reason I hung in there and finished the race was because I was still scoring for the team. Hats off to the other Canadians. Goose, Joel, and Hutch all ran really well.

The Night After

The banquet (which was something I was looking forward to) turned out to be a disappointment.

I was looking forward to chatting with some of the friends who went to Providence College and various other people I had become friends with through my running. And I was looking forward to a good feed. Neither really panned out.

They rushed us through a meal that was really small (we thought it was just the appetizer!). I can now say that I tried Haggas (a traditional Scottish fare, which I believe (but don't really want to believe) is sheep brains or intestines or both or neither??)

Anyways three pieces of cheese cake, which we had to swindle from nearby tables turned out to satisfy my appetite. I was able to have a good chat with Dierdre and Orla two ladies who represented Ireland, who used to be in providence. Unfortunately I didn't really track down anyone else. We ended up leaving pretty quickly and just went to a pub not far from the residences.

We had a bit of an adventure trying to find some grub after the pub had closed. Most people settled for Papa John's pizza. But, coming from Rhode Island where there is Papa John's everywhere I decide to try to find something else.

Hutch, Nakluski and I found a kebab shop and enjoyed a slightly more traditional Scottish (or just perhaps less American) post pub grub experience.

The Day After

I woke up the morning after the race and went for a run. I was pretty down about my first experience in the Senior World Cross Country Championships.

Unfortunately I did not really learn a lot about how to race this race, as the cramp really prevented me from getting in any sort of groove. So, the run was filled with a mix of emotions, trying to put the race behind me and realize that I am in much better shape than my 130th placing showed

next Off to Loughborough, Final Preparation and English Culture