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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flora London Marathon

On Saturday we headed to The Tower where Catherine and crew relocated so they could be where needed Sunday morning early for the race. After they got settled into their room we were able to watch Lisa decorate Catherine’s bottles for along the race route. We later would film Catherine as she prepared them with endure and water and taste tested them before dropping them off with the race officials. Each elite athlete must submit their course bottles at a certain time before the race so they are monitored and not tampered with before the start. On Sunday morning we had to be at The Tower by 6:45 am to film Catherine board the bus en route to the start. Unfortunately, the race directors would not give us credentials to film Anthony and Jane at the finish line; something to do with privacy of the other athletes. I was extremely disappointed as this was one of the main reasons for coming to London in the first place; once again capture the enormous support Catherine receives from her husband as well as Lisa and Mostafa. Lisa ended up being offered a spot on the lead vehicle and not wanting to insult anyone she accepted it. She said it is not a great place to watch a race because you only see the lead runners so if your runner is not in that group you have no way of communicating to find out! She ended up texting me and I kept her informed when she needed an update; Jon and I watched from the press center and had access to all of that information. Catherine stayed at the back of the pack as she usually does but she did not seem to ever really make a “move”. The race was really between three runners for much of it; Irina, Chunxiu and a British runner, Mara Yamouchi. Along the way Chunxiu Zhou fell back but Catherine was still just comfortably in the lead of the second pack just over two minutes behind the two leaders. She finished in 7th place and then Lisa texted me that Catherine was on her way to see a podiatrist, alerting us that they would not be heading right back. It turns out that at around 15k Catherine said she felt something on her foot but she didn’t pay attention to it. By 25k she was in much discomfort and pain but dropping out was never even a thought. She still turned in a respectable time at just over 2:26! The doc bandaged up her foot and all of the elite athletes returned to the hotel via bus and water taxi because so many roads were closed. We caught up to everyone as they docked at the pier by the hotel and we followed Catherine back to her room where we were able to see her foot. She showered and then we followed her back down to the media centre for lunch. When she was interviewed she didn’t even mention her foot injury to the reporters! She was gracious as always and congratulated the winners and stated that today it was their day. Catherine was approached by many reporters as she finished lunch and was very accommodating to each. Jane, however, was completely bored. Still trying to break the ice I thought back to what I liked to do as a kid. I asked her if she’d like to draw and she perked up and said yes. I got her a pen and paper and she now had something to do! I still wanted to get to know her even better so I told her about when I was younger how I was always embarrassed to loan people my notes because I had little drawings of people in all the margins! I drew one of my “creations” for her and she was so impressed (glad to know someone was!) She tried to duplicate it and ended up doing a really cool job on her own! I felt as if maybe we had made a little progress. As much as I would have liked to hang out and get to know her better, I still had interviews to conduct! I arranged to interview Sean Hartnett who had been involved with Kenyan runners for many years and many of the Kenyans call him “Professor of Marathon” (he is actually a geography teacher at University of Wisconsin. He used to run marathons, has been writing for US Track and Field for many years. It was very interesting talking to him as he has followed Catherine’s career as well as many others.

When we finished with Sean we spoke with another man who had just run his first marathon. He and his wife watched my interview with Constantina previously and we spoke with them after. I was curious to see how he did and we got a quick interview as well. He is a very charming man with a big smile and even better attitude so it was great to hear him talk about completing his first marathon! His name is David Wright and he is a former PGA golf pro from New Zealand and he and his wife is a lovely couple. If I ever get to visit New Zealand I know I have a place to stay AND they have St. Bernard dogs to top it all off! J It was now past 6pm and the elite athletes as well as other invited ones were getting ready to head out to their post race party. Jon and I were exhausted and knew we needed to still pack before leaving in the morning.

We charted our way back to our hotel via the tube and got the tapes downloading from a good day. Around 8 we headed out and found a cute Italian restaurant that had a good special. After dinner I told Jon I would meet him back at the hotel because I wanted to hit an ATM so I could pay the taxi to the airport in the morning. I went to the Barclay’s Bank because they are international. I put my card in and could not figure out how to operate the machine. Now I’m no dummy; I tried touching the screen to make my selections, that didn’t work. I tried everything I could and still could not figure out how to operate the screen! You would think it would be easy or that there would be instructions. Eventually it asked if I wanted more time and since I could not figure out how to answer it, I thought it would just spit my card back at me. NOT! That $#%*#&$*# machine ATE MY ATM card at 9:40PM the night before I was due at the airport at 8:30am!!! I kept myself calm and called their 24 hour number at which time I was told that I had to call MY bank in the US. HUH? What good would that do me? They are 5 hours behind and I was due to fly out the next morning to Kenya! It was useless; I got the good ole deaf ear and ended up using another ATM machine across the street to get enough to pay the taxi driver in the morning. Fortunately, I had my personal ATM card as well. Unfortunately, it left a bad taste in my mouth of London!

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