This is my fifth day on the road, and it was spent covering the 2014 IAAF AL-Bank Half Marathon Championships! A great day!
The front pack of elite women, Copenhagen 2014 WHMC, photo by PhotoRun.net
The race day was early as we did not know how close I could get to the media area in the city center of Copenhagen. At 9 am, the race was to start at 12:30 PM, I took a taxi to within a kilometer of the start.
Walking through the downtown was interesting. The clubs involved in the race were doing their work. There were to to three information people at nearly every street corner, in red adidas jackets with maps and answers to locals and non-locals questions.
The race was a cooperative effort between the Danish Athletics Federation (founded in 1907 by 60 running clubs) and the IAAF. There were over 1600 volunteers involved in the race, and as the race got closer, the method of the madness became quite apparent. The dignitaries showed up, driven by volunteers in national partner, Leaseplan.com, automobiles. Pace car and other cars were electric. Storage of runners clothes was put in large container trucks a few blocks from the start and with alphabetical precision.
The opening ceremony started at 12 noon, with 57 Danish children holding flags of attending federations. After the Danish national anthem was sang, the Danish Prime Minister spoke in Danish and English. This was a hugely important event for the Danish nation! In one fell swoop, Copenhagen was doing an event, per NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg, who ran the race, as well run as events in New York or London.
The media (about three dozen of us), were at the finish line, in a facility that gave us electronic updates on team performances, athlete performances, TV screens and pace updates, courtesy of Mark Butler, working with the IAAF. A few wifi issues were overcome (redundancy is needed, with wifi and cables in all events).
The races were superb, with the Kenyan women going one through five, and Eritrean men taking the team title with five Eritreans in top eight.
There were nearly 100,000 fans around the finish and start area, but, the crowds were quite easy to walk through and the Danish Politi (Police) were quite relaxed, while providing the presence that they needed. When I asked an officer to cross into the finish area after 2 hours into the race, he was quite helpful.
I remember watching Danish Athletics Federation official Jakob Larsen walking around, checking on things just before the race. IAAF President Lamine Diack was beaming as was Essar Gabriel, the General Secretary. I particularly enjoyed watching Monsieur Gabriel snapping photos with his iphone of the finish area!
After the race, press conferences were held in the main Media Center. I was lucky enough to get some time with Wilson KIpketer, who had just run a 1:20 half marathon. Wilson Kipketer is so accessible and so gracious, he understands the importance of the event to the Danes, and I had watched him greeted every block he walked during his warm up. " I enjoyed that I heard, Wilson! Wilson! nearly every kilometer during the race! I was quite encouraging." noted Wilson after the race.
When I finally left the media center, it was about six pm. The downtown was cleared out, as the winds picked up (it had been a sunny, blustery day for the half marathon, nearly perfect weather, probably high 40s on Fahrenheit scale, ), as a few of the abandoned space blankets used by the half marathoners drifted across the street, providing a ghostly reminder of the 30,000 living souls who had just enjoyed the one loop course through the city of Copenhagen.