Usain Bolt and President Lamine Diack,
photo courtesy of Getty images for the IAAF
(Gary wanted to be in the above picture, but he missed his historical moment. Our Gary was crushed. And so, quite frankly, were we. )
Gary Morgan is Mr. Ubiquitous. He is a cult hero. And I, for one, worship the guy. I am building a statue of him, surrounded by Gnomes, in my flower garden in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. By 2017, when the statue will be completed, it will become a shrine.
The man travels more than yours truly.
A 1988 Olympian at the 20,000 meter Race Walk, Gary is also an associate editor of Michigan Runner and a dear friend.
His fans are legend, and his new twitter feed, RunGaryRun, should be followed and savored. It is sure more fun than Charlie Sheen’s and you already follow Charlie, right?
His whirlwind trip to the Bahamas is pretty special. The only thing he does not blog on is how many times he breathes in an hour. Every day has a Moment of Gary (kind of a Jon Stewart Zen Moment, only about Gary Morgan).
Most importantly, Gary Morgan loves the sport, and you will, after you read his journal.
If not, do not say a word, or Gary and I will visit your house for a few days.
Gary will wake you up quite early and after an exciting slide show of all the races he has paced in 2014, I will take you out on a two hour walk and discuss the politics of Moldova (I can, and what is more important, I will).
You will become an enlightened anarchist and take a job as a barista, making imperfect caffe lattes, half soy, half non-fat with a pistachio hint.
Get my drift?
Friday, May 1st
Getting up for another adventure: The World Relays in the Bahamas at Nassau.
Flew out of Detroit to Miami then a quick 58 minute flight to Nassau. I’m met at the airport by a local organizing committee person who gets me through security very quickly. Met up with my good friend James OBrien, editor of the Winged Foot magazine and Joseph Codrington, coach of some athletes here. Eventually they took James and I to our Hotels on Paradise Island, which is right across from Nassau.
As soon as I drop off my bags, I headed over to the Atlantis hotel where they were having a press conference with Usain Bolt and other top athletes.
It ended just before I got there. Usain along with his entourage was walking down the stairs and some young girls were there taking his picture as he walked by. They got a real kick out of it. At least I met up with my media friends and got the low down on what was happening for the meet. We got our press credentials to cover the meet.
After some light snacks and drinks, James and I took the grand tour of the Atlantis resort Aquarium pools. They were phenomenal! They had green sea turtles, stingrays, hammerhead sharks all in small separate pools. The Atlantis hotel had a huge Aquarium with all kinds of sea life.
Then, we checked out the beach area. We stopped at one of their bar/restaurant areas and had a couple of drinks. We met a family from the Netherlands. They were on a cruise and they were telling us all about the places they had visited. They were amazed about the big track meet that was going to happen for the weekend. They left and we finished our tour going by the mini lake.
There’s a dolphin park too. This is listed as one of the greatest resort hotels in the World. It was opened in 1998 and had two major additions in 2007 which brought it’s room capacity to over 300 rooms. I had heard about this place years ago and to finally come and see it was pretty cool. If you ever come to Nassau, come check this place out.
There was a marina right next to the resort that had some huge luxurious yachts. Just walking by these boats was part of the Atlantis experience. You could tell this was a major playground spot in the Caribbean. Got some dinner with Jim a called it night.
Saturday, May 2nd
Slept in and rested up since I was up almost 24 hours straight the day before. Jim and I met up and walked down to the harbor where the ferry boats ran back and forth to Nassau. It was $4 a person each way. They advertise to run every half hour, but, they really run as they fill up. They had a drink stand there so we got a couple of Mango smoothies. They were made with coconut juice and they were fantastic. The ferry ride was a hoot with lots of great views and a tour guide. He told us all about the cool things in the harbor area.
We could see Atlantis and he told us the suite on the bridge connecting the two towers there cost $25,000 a night. Lots of celebrities have stayed there. He told us who owned the expensive houses on paradise island next to the water and how much they cost: just thing millions. Club Med had a nude beach there years ago. It’s been closed for along time and Atlantis resort just bought the property for $ 40 million.
Then we went by the gigantic cruise ships. Up to 7 ships can dock there at the same time. That increases the population by over 20,000 people when they are there at the same time. It’s over 100 feet deep in the port so that’s why big ships can come in.
It was a busy harbor. Finally we get to Nassau and get off the boat. It’s the bar/restaurant district at the dock. We check it out then find a tourist guide center and get a map of the Island.
This island is called New Providence. It’s 21 miles long and 7 miles wide. It’s the main island for the Bahamas.
There’s over 700 islands that make up the Bahamas. There’s over 200,000 people living on this island so it’s pretty crowded. We decide to do a walking tour of the city area.
We check out the government buildings near parliament square. All the government buildings are pink including the house of parliament and library.
We stopped at the Bahamas historical museum. It was a small place yet filled with lots of cool historical stuff. Columbus first landed in 1492 at San Salvador which is a Bahamian island. The natives he met there he called Indians because he thought he had landed in India. Columbus, in fact, thought he was in Asia.
The Bahamas were first settled in 1649 in Eleuthera an outer Island. The USA has had major impact on the Bahamas. Nassau was formerly known as Charlestown in 1695 it became Nassau.
In 1776 and 1778 the US Marines came to Nassau’s Fort Montague and raided the fort for ammunition and supplies for the revolutionary war. Now Nassau is a major tourist destination and banking center for the Caribbean.
The history of this Island goes on forever. We went to the Queens staircase which was built to provide a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau city. It’s 65 stairs through a limestone quarry, built by slaves from 1793-1794. It was a cool spot to see and climb up the stairs.
Once we got up to the top, we went to Fort Fincastle which is shaped like a paddle steamer. It was built in 1793 and served as a lighthouse since it’s at the highest point on the Island, yet it still had cannons to protect the Island. It was an awesome view from there. The water tower located here is the highest structure on the island. At 126 feet tall you can get a great view when it’s opened but it wasn’t when we were there and it looked like it hadn’t been opened in years.
There are 216 steps inside it to the top. Then, we walked over to the government house where the Governor General of the Bahamas lives. it was built in 1803 and is the usual pink conch color of buildings there. Great view from the hill it’s on over Nassau. We didn’t go in because it wasn’t opened for tours as far as we could see. Finally it was time to go back to Paradise Island so we caught the Ferry boat back. Then we got our Cameras and laptops to go the Stadium for the World Relay Championships.
The Stadium was in the center point of the island and it took awhile to get there. The track is inside the stadium. The name of the stadium is Thomas Robinson National Stadium and it was built in 1981. The stadium was renovated a couple of times since then.
It holds 15,000 spectators, used mostly for soccer. We get there and check in and pickup our bags.
This is what we came for!
They were having a high school meet before the big show. At 6 pm they had the opening ceremony. It was great, as the National service band came out and played. Then, a small orchestra played as a singer sung the National Anthem of the Bahamas. From there, dignitary’s made their speeches. Then, the Bahamian costumed dancers took the field with music to kick off the Relay meet. They usually perform at holiday events in the streets and it’s called Junkanoo ( Street Parade).
The first race was at 7pm and the stands were packed. It started off with the men’s 4 X 00 meter relay qualifying rounds, then qualifying rounds in the 4X100 for men. The Crowd went crazy for the 4X100 ro
The first final was the Men’s 4X800 which TEAM USA won and beat the Kenyans.
Then the Women’s Distance Medley Relay which consist of a 1200, 800, 400 and a 1600. Team USA set a new World record. That was exciting to watch and interview the athletes after the race.
There were other races but the big one was the Men’s 4X100 which Team USA beat Usain Bolt and company from Jamaica.
What a way to end the night there!
From start to finish it was three hours. It flew by like a rocket ship with running, fans, noise and music. This is how every track meet should be.
Like everyone else, James and I took the bus back to our hotel. Then we went over to the Atlantis and watch the big Boxing match in the lobby. There must have been 400 people standing there watching the fight. We had a riot watching it with all those people there. Everyone would get excited when a few good hits were thrown.
Everyone has their opinion of who won the boxing match. That’s what makes boxing an interesting and controversial sport. As we were leaving we ran into Joseph Codrington from Ann Arbor. He was having fun with his athletes and friends there. We called it a day and what a day it was.
Sunday, May 3
Went for breakfast and took it easy until 10:30 when the Media bus picked us up. We went to the Harbor for a boat trip around the harbor. Around 20 of the media group went. It was a great way to mingle with other media people from around the earth outside of the venue. Beautiful sunny day there instead of the previous two cloudy days. We docked and we went to nice restaurant for dinner and drinks. I even ran into an IAAF representative from Puerto Rico who used to be in charge of all of the PAN AM race walking cups I competed in. He’s retired from it now but stopped in to say hello.
At 2pm we left and all of us went back to our hotels. I went out running and I ran over the big bridge to Nassau and headed east until I got to Fort Montague where the Americans raided for supplies back in 1776 and 1778.
It was just a small concrete building with two cannons on it. Remember, this was under British rule until 1973. That’s when the Bahamas became an independent country.
I went just a little past there and checked out all the fish the fishermen were cleaning by the water. yhey were all grouper fish, plus they had some conchs, lot’s of them laying around. Ran back to the hotel and ran over the other bridge there. There’s two bridges, one going each way. They built the second one when they built Atlantis.
When I got back to the hotel, changed and then caught bus back to the Stadium. It became another exciting night as the Americans won three more relays and the Men set a new World record in the Distance Medley relay.
Team USA got the Golden Baton for being the top scoring team.
As it all ended the Bahamian costumed dancers gave a great show to end it all. This is one of the most exciting and fun track meets I’ve ever been to.
Everyone went to a post race dinner and party at the Atlantis. I had dinner and a couple of drinks with friends.
Then went back to my room to pack up.
I slept for few hours and got picked up at 4 am to go the airport. I caught my flight at 7am and homeward bound I was.
What a wild and fast weekend it was in the Bahamas.
I highly recommend going here in the near future.
Track is Fun
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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