Clermont 2008

2008 World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships

March 24, 2008 - C'est tout!

That's all, as they say in France. I thought I'd tie things up with a few final thoughts.

After the 1500 on Saturday I exchanged jerseys with Lucia Soranzo, a great runner from Italy who is in my age group. We cooled down together, she in my USA top and I in my now treasured jersey from Italia. We communicated as best we could but ultimately the language didn't matter because we spoke a common one - the language of our sport. This is undoubtedly the BEST part of particpating in an international competition - communing with runners from so many different backgrounds but yet with common goals, passion and focus. It may only be a gesture or a nod of the head but they are interactions you will never forget.

This meet was plagued with some technical and organizational problems. I didn't have one time from my 3 events that survived from the "official" time on the scoreboard to the medal ceremony and certificate presentation. I have no idea if this was a transcription problem or a computer glitch but after awhile we just laughed it off. In the 800 Kathy Martin and I were listed as coming in 2 and 3 and she became Katherine Steinbach and I, Coreen Martin. You don't want to know how long it took to straighten out and we are still scratching our heads over the "official" times. I suppose if my times had been off and it invloved a PR I would not have been smiling. I hope no one was impacted who may have been setting a broader record.

At a more egregious level it became apparent over the course of the week that French runners were being given advantages in the sprint distances. We spoke with several team managers who were furious and it affected both male and female athletes. The heats were being stacked with all the fastest runners in one heat instead of spreading them out across the heats. So if they didn't place 1 or 2 in that heat they didn't advance to the final. The team managers felt this was being done deliberately to move more, possibly slower, French runners into finals. I am telling you all these things so that if you decide to run in an International competition you will go with a very open mind, ready to roll with the punches and expect anything.

The last night we stayed in an airport hotel. I ran early the next morning and got to see the sun for the first time in 11 days. It was your typical industrial complex skirting an airport. But as I ran along I suddenly came upon an ancient but currently inhabited French village!! It was a totally unexpected surprise! An elderly man (in a beret, of course) was opening the shutters on his pristine cottage and we exchanged hearty "Bonjours!" I thought to myself if not for running I would have missed this. And whole lot of other things in my life, too.

Thanks for the chance to share this experience with you all. -- Coreen

March 22, 2008 - Results, 1,500 meters:

1 500m - Salle / 55F | F | Finale directe 1 | Chr : E
1
5'11''05
MARTIN Kathryn (USA)
2
5'29''68
STEINBACH Coreen (USA)
3
5'31''86
SORANZO Lucia (ITA)
4
5'54''24
GONZALO Eleuteria (ESP)
5
6'04''55
BEZOLD Hannelore (GER)
6
6'19''77
NEUSTROEVA Maria (RUS)
7
AB
BOWERS Liz (GBR)
8
NP
KEELING Cheryl (USA)
9
NP
ROSADO Mary V. (USA)
10
NP
ZACCARIA Jacqueline (FRA)

March 20, 2008 - Part Deux: Tom Petty had it right......

The waiting is the hardest part. We arrived in Claremont-Ferrand Saturday night form Paris. It was late. We were exhausted. It was our lucky day that the rental car place was closed or Don and I would still be driving around trying to find the hotel. A cab driver who could not speak English dropped us in front of a building that did not resemble a hotel and gestured for us to enter an elevator. We kept looking at him as if this couldn't possibly be right but he insisted we go up the elevator. We obeyed and found ourselves in an outdoor courtyard but there was a door that said "Residence" so we tried our luck. It was a nondescript lobby with no desk, etc. Not a soul in sight. To our great good fortune a gentleman entered with his bike. He could not speak English but I managed to stumble through enough French to communicate our dilemma. He went to a little wall safe, entered a code and inside - VOILA - was an envelope with our name on it with a room key. Our relief was palpable.

I was not to run until Tuesday evening so the waiting began in earnest on Sunday. We checked out the local environs and  the track and got the packet. You all know the drill. But here's a first..... 4 safety pins cost 1 euro!! Thank God I had my usual pin stash courtesy of our apparently generous race directors at home!! The race numbers are gigantic and you are warned not to fold or otherwise alter the number. The transponder is embedded in the front bib.

The track facility is beautiful. There are two outside warm up lanes but you're not allowed on them. Don't ask me why. There is NO entry to the track until you are led out for your event. There is a lovely outdoor track adjacent and although it has been very cold and windy I have been warming up out there. This is no problem for a girl from the 'Cuse but others are complaining.

It is people watching heaven at the track. There are athletes from every corner of the earth. I even saw a team from Tenerife. It is a riot of color with all the different warm up suits of the different nationalities. It is a true polyglot - more languages being spoken than you could possibly identify.

I waited all day Monday. I waited most of the day Tuesday( little did I know how MUCH I was going to wait). My race time was 5:45 pm and I headed over to the track at 2:30 because I felt like a pent up animal in the hotel. At least we could watch races. We were instructed to be in the call room 25 minutes before our event so I started warming up at 4:20. As race time approached I realized they were running VERY late. I sat. I jogged around. I peed more times than would be humanly possible under different conditions. It was 7:10 when we were finally led to the track. By the time our heat went off it was almost 7:20. UUgghh.

The track is semi-banked which is cool but it is deader than a doornail. Give me Manley any day. You feel like each footstep is a thud and there is no return of energy. You track folks out there know what I am talking about. The 800 went by in a blur and was somewhat lackluster as 5 of the women registered for the race didn't show up. I was second so a silver medal was exciting. The waiting was over. Kind of.

The 3000 was Wed. afternoon at 5:10 and the atmosphere was totally different. The meet was running on time. I can't describe to you all the pandemonium in the call room the day before. This day, thankfully,  was peaceful and orderly. It was a large field for the 3000 - 17 women. I fought hard for half of the race to pass a woman from Great Britain to secure third place. I did and held on to it through the finish.

Medal ceremonies are held the following day after your event and they are quite lovely with kisses on the cheek in the French manner. They are considered "mandatory" and I am wondering if you don't get your medal if you don't show up???

There are some interesting track shenanigans to report. During the men's 45-49 800 someone was cut off right in the first turn. The one cut off caught up to the offender grabbed him by the singlet and punched him!!! The race continued - no disqualification - and the puncher was nosed out for third place in the last moment. Never saw anything like it. Three men in the 70-74 3000 were literally hit by errant poles held by pole vaulters!! The crowd was crazed yelling at officials to tell them to be careful. It was crazy. Apparently the vaulting lanes are too close to the track lanes for comfort. One vaulter fell during his heat and broke his arm. The word was that vaulters were feeling disoriented that they were going to literally land in the crowd an it was affecting their vaults.

My day "off" day today was spent sightseeing. The French countryside is as you would imagine, bucolic and charming. The weather has been awful - very 'Cuse like for March. The people are warm and friendly despite our preconceived notion that they don't care for Americans. People have been kind and patient without exception.

The 1500 is Saturday so the waiting is truly almost over!! I am missing March Madness and haven't filled out a bracket which is killing me. There's not even a sports bar where we can park our butts and get a fix of the early rounds!! C'est la vie!! Hope to see you all soon at a Goat training run.

Au revoir, mon amis!!   Coreen

March 19, 2008 - Results, 3,000 meters:

3 000m - Salle / 55F | F | Finale directe 1 | Chr : E
1
11'05''92
MARTIN Kathryn (USA)
2
11'33''39
SORANZO Lucia (ITA)
3
11'36''22
STEINBACH Coreen (USA)
4
12'13''31
MONTES Cathy (FRA)
5
12'22''88
GONZALO Eleuteria (ESP)
6
12'26''41
GRIFFIN Lesley (GBR)
7
12'49''19
BEZOLD Hannelore (GER)
8
13'01''14
JULIEN Jeannie (FRA)
9
13'09''05
MANN Irmgard (GER)
10
13'17''13
NEUSTROEVA Maria (RUS)
11
15'41''71
CHOW Kitty (HKG)
12
15'43''52
VOISIN Sylvette (FRA)
13
17'15''00
ZACCARIA Jacqueline (FRA)
-
AB
BOWERS Liz (GBR)
-
AB
MÜLLER Monika (GER)
-
NP
LIUBOV Galina (RUS)
-
NP
SEMENOVA Alfiya (RUS)

March 18, 2008 - Results, 800 meters:

800m - Salle / 55F | F | Finale directe 1 | Chr : E
1
2'39''09
MARTIN Kathryn (USA)
2
2'41''58
STEINBACH Coreen (USA)
3
2'59''22
BEZOLD Hannelore (GER)
4
3'17''46
ESQUERDO Rosa (ESP)
5
3'34''75
ROSADO Mary V. (USA)
6
NP
KEELING Cheryl (USA)

March 14, 2008 - Why is it so important?

I pondered this question as the plane lumbered across the French countryside heading for Charles DeGaulle airport; the early morning light softening the spring greens. It was a surprisingly rural scene. It could, in fact, have been Central New York. But of course, it wasn't. There was no snow or hills to speak of. The red hued roofs of the villages and the scattered ancient architecture spoke of the differences. So I chuckled to myself.....why is it so important? Why would I travel thousands of miles to run around in circles for a few minutes?

I think running evokes something deeply primal in all of us. Our bodies are meant to run - away from predators or enemies; to get somewhere expeditiously before we convinced horses to take us there faster. We now have free time in our lives so that running can be more than that. We run for fitness, health and well being; for personal accomplishment, friendship and camaraderie, But the question remains.....why do we train and race so hard? Why are we willing to enter a zone that may involve physical as well as emotional suffering again and again? I guess ultimately the answer is simply that we can. And that it is so much damned fun. This is our common denominator. The exhilaration of running is our drug. Whether we are speedsters doing the 60 meters or back-of-the packers training for marathons, we are bonded together as runners because we KNOW why it is so important.

I've had some lovely runs along the Seine and am thoroughly enchanted with Paris. We travel tomorrow to Claremont Ferrand where the track meet is being held. I will report on the Euro track scene from there!

Au revoir, mon amis!!   Coreen

[an error occurred while processing this directive]