Valencia Diaries, 3.08.08


First, some housekeeping. I misspelled Janeth Jepkosgei, who, in my belief, is the beginning of a new era in women 800 meter runners. Janeth spoke at the AF press conference yesterday! My apologies to Janeth ( all corrected).

The rest of this column are some thoughts on the World Indoor and some waxing on our sport....

It is Saturday morning, about 10.30 in the morning. There is a 2/3 crowd in the Stadium. Getting up this morning was a bit challenging. I had taken the last bus, at midnight back to the Confortel Aqua 4, where I am staying. The drive through Valencia last night was like a private tour. By the time I got to our hotel, which is across town, it was after one am and the only places open for dinner were McDonalds and Hollywood, a Spanish interpretation of American cuisine. I stuck with the steak and frites. The two places that were busy were the Hollywood restaurant and Planet Bowling, a bowling lane, bar and pinball palace. The young people in the club and the restaurant reminded me of the kids at the clubs where my son's bands have played-a few tattoos, lots of facial piercings, affable and enjoying their friends.

I took a short walk and headed back to check the final emails for the day. As we are on deadline for several magazines in the states, I thanked our production manager, MIke Lukich and assistant traffic manager, Alex Larsen, for saving the day on a minor ad crisis-with 34 titles that we place ads in, there is always some crisis. My last emails were with our Web editor, Brenda, who was posting my pieces on our sites.

Morning came five hours later and that first cup of coffee was much needed. I have been thinking about inventing a caffeine rub on, for us life time caffeine abusers. Coffee in Spain is not subtle, it hits you like a brick wall, and for my brain waves, at this time, that is much appreciated.

My taxi drive over to the stadium was with a very genial driver who spoke a bit of English. Between my little Spanish, French and his English, we had an animated conversation. He told me about how he loves the sun in Valencia, and showed me where he lived ( high rise apartments on the outside of the city), and a bit about his family.

Security is a little more present today. Sunday, March 9, is the national elections in Spain and with the recent assassination of a former politico by ETA, there is some tension. The major candidates both spoke yesterday and visited the funeral. There were some strong protests against the Basque seperatists, ETA.

Democracy is hard won in Spain, and is recent. The vitality of their political system is fascinating: Communist, Socialist, Center party ( a bit left of our parties in US). It was just in 1975 that Franco died. It was just in 1981, that King Juan Carlos, on radio, asked the generals to turn down their attempted coup. For a country with huge traditions, Spain is changing and thriving. Sometimes, in the US, we take much of our traditions for granted. The scars from the past are very close to the skin in Spain, as in other parts of
Europe. It is something, as a nation, in the US, we need to understand.

I looked for the signs from the PPP party, and I enjoyed the Vota Communista signs in one neighborhood.


A little treat for the geeks among you! Here is the link for the Team USA Media Guide, which USATF associate press czarina Vicki Oddi is giving to media in Valencia, it has some great bios on the US team:

Bryan Clay is on a roll in the heptathlon and LoLo Jones looked very good in the first hurdle round! A complete morning session report in a few hours. Now, to find
some more coffee...

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