Geel, Beer, Belgium, Athletes, Water.
Excellent trip, I left in the middle of a storm, water everywhere. I flew, caught some trains and thought I was staying in Geel but turns out that I was actually staying in Hententals or Hottentots as I have rechristened it.
'Hello blonde lady' I said, waving a tattered piece of paper at a woman on a bike. 'Can you tell me where this hotel is?'
'Ja' said she, looking impossibly cool and not flustered, 'it is two towns over. In der market square.'
But if course it is, I thought.
Finally got there, dumped bag, had shower and took myself of down stairs with Gore Vidal's memoir. I then joyously took up residence at a table OUTSIDE in the SUN and ordered the first of some fine FINE BElgium beer. Nom nom.
Met Finn, grabbed a bite to eat and we discussed her game plan.
'I plan to run very fast.' She said.
Excellent plan. We then ceased talking about racing and talked of important things like poo jokes and how no matter where you go there are always Meercats.
Next morning up at 5, off to Geel with Team USA.
The day was overcast and drizzly, teams from all over looked skywards and then at the tiny skinny easily slidable wheels of their road bikes.
Tough race, 18k run, followed by a 78k bike, followed by a 9k run. It was quite a nerve tingling race. I watched it with a Doctor from Maine, a German/Kuwait lady who lives in Alaska and a 16 year old kid whose mother was running in the race in the age group above Finn.
Finn started off well, looking strong and comfortable, and then proceeded to nail that race's ass to the flag pole. She gained time the entire race and after the second or third loop on the bikes, she looked to be pulling away. On the last 9k she swept into the town square with a German runner 55 five seconds on her tail.
'RUN YANK RUN!" I bellowed, helpfully.
Clearly that worked, because when she came back around for her final sweep the German was almost three minutes behind and Finn milled up the ramp with a big grin and the promptly won her age group.
There was much cheering.
What a bloody run she put in. And this is coming off the back of some seriously tricky months of injury when her foot had a cracked bone, her quads were hissing at her and she had to wear 'Das Boot' just to walk sometimes.
There was other stuff, mostly related to beer and spanish talking and climbing over reception desks to steal hotel phones to make free calls to sleeping paramours. There were more poo jokes and some wandering about and then some passing out, and a car journey that aged me twenty-five years.
But it's not about that, it was about watching someone accept a challenge and then pull out a performance that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. 4 hours of grit determination, pluck and brilliance.
Finn is now a champion, she has a medal to prove it. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Congratulation Miss Finn!
Labels: running and biking oh my.