Sunday, 23 August 2009

Two Lisas, race swag and Colorado beauty

We're in our hotel room at the Best Western in Buena Vista, we've bonded and we're ready to race!

This morning started way early - at 04h30! Alex dropped me off at Kennedy airport for my 07h30 flight. I got hassled at security about my trekking pole; they wouldn't let me through and check-in wouldn't check it because "it may get lost", which it probably would. The supervisor told me to try another security entrance, which worked and I made my flight just in time.

I then slept the whole way (about 2hrs) to Atlanta, sprinting to make my flight to Denver because we were late arriving from New York. I thought I'd be ok because we arrived at terminal B and I would be departing Terminal B... except when I got to the gate it had changed. I ran to Terminal A, making the back of the boarding queue at 10h43... the plane was scheduled to depart at 10h50 and fortunately it was late. I sat to two very nice people and slept most of the way to Denver.

Devon, from Gordon's Outside PR team, was there to meet me. She whisked me off to join another journo Mike at the car. We then went to collect two other journo-runners, Matt and Kyle. Coincidentally I'd received an email from a sporty US acquaintance Steve on Wednesday just before I left for the airport. He said I should look out for two of his friends. So as I get out of the car, Matt asks if I'm Lisa... he's just recevied a text from Steve to look out for me. Y'all, the world is small.

The drive from Denver to Buena Vista is just under three hours. We drove through some lovely scenery - pine forested foothills and grassy valleys dotted with pretty little yellow flowers. The Collegiate mountains surround Buena Vista (five of them, each named after colleges - Yale, Harvard, Princeton etc) - we'll run through/past/around them tomorrow. And in the background are higher mountains on which there are smudges of snow. The town itself is cute and quaint and spacious. You can tell you're in the West because of 'saloons' and signs in cowboy/western font.

At the race we whisked through registration at the local museum. My teammate Lisa Watson, an accomplished skier, had checked in earlier to collect our race goodies. I met some other journos and runners before heading for our hotel. There I met my teammate, Lisa - she's great and we are going to have a super run together. We had a quick 30-minutes together before returning to HQ for dinner and pre-race briefing. I saw Gordon again, for the first time since Primal Quest 2004. And at dinner I bumped into Louise Cooper, an ex-South African who I first met at Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica in 2005. Louise returns to SA regularly to visit family.

Lisa and Lisa

There are around 270 runners at this third edition of the Gore TransRockies Run. The race will limit the number of participants to 300 and it will certainly start running a waiting list because this event is certain to become THE race to attend. So far the organisation has been superb, dinner was delicious and if what I've seen so far is anything to go by, this race will be right up there for supported events.

Returning to our hotel room I got my first look at our race swag (pronounced schwag) - Stuff We All Get (I knew what swag was, I just didn't know it was an acronym). We've got beautiful GoreTex jackets, girly run tees, aluminium water bottles, Nathan running water bottle, a Timex watch (way cool!) and bits and pieces like Salomon cap, Gu gel and Baker Cookies. And, as media, we got these really cool Salomon RX S-Lab slip-on fancy-pants shoes. And all our gear for the race goes into these large duffel bags. Nice. Very nice.

We love swag and I don't think it is ever possible to get and appreciate too much swag, especially when the gear is so cool and so useful. Lisa agrees.

We've got a late start tomorrow. We're going for breakfast at 08h00, race briefing at 09h00 and start at 10h00. Yes, late start and sure to be hot out there. Weather is nice and warm (quite hot actually) but at least the air is dry and not that run-into-a-wall humidity of NY and Atlanta. We'll really have to watch hydration tomorrow.

Till after Stage 1....

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