This is a homage to one of my favorite cities in the world, Birmingham, England. My good mate, Ian Stewart lives there, and he introduced me to this fine city. The curry, the canal, the people, Alexander Stadium, I am missing madly today as I sit in Portland, Oregon, in a heat wave.
So, let’s start with Birmingham. I first went to Birmingham in 2006 under the proper guidance of one Ian Stewart, that one, the guy who knew how to race a proper 5,000 meters. At the time, Ian was working with Jon Ridgeon and Alan Pascoe on the British Athletics meet series through Fast Track Agency (now CSM).
Birmingham was an auto city until the auto biz left Birmingham. The city reinvented itself with wondrous outdoor art, a fantastic mall, excellent curries, and fun bars and sporting events. I frequented the old Alexander Stadium, which was a blast to watch British champs and Diamond League meetings. Birmingham has more canals than Venice, Italy, and the width of the canals is different from the ones coming from London, so commerce had to work with Birmingham boats in the old days. Lovely walks along the canals cleared my head prior to meets or a night on the town with the crew.
I am missing Birmingham due to my improving health and finances. As the business is coming along well after my health issues, I just did not want to put more pressure on it for another long travel stint.
I love the Commonwealth Games, and I enjoyed 2014 Glasgow immensely. It is where Stuart Weir and I got into our groove. Stuart would write wonderful columns on the games. The media section was pretty mellow, and I was fortunate to meet a whole bunch of Scottish writers.
Stuart and I did pull a prank. We told Scotland’s finest writers that the U.S. was considering joining the Commonwealth Games in the future. And why not? We were former colonies, right, so why the hell not?
On my way to Glasgow, I took the train from London. About two hours outside of Glasgow, a tree had fallen on the tracks. So, in this tiny Scottish town, more taxis (about 200) than people in the town.
My driver, a fine Scottish cabbie, entertained me for two plus hours. At the end of the trip, I gave him a fine tip and noted that I had understood every fifth word; he smiled and said something so unintelligible I thought I was in Kazakhstan.
The next Alexander Stadium will be the home of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Track & Field. It should be wonderful. Stuart Weir will provide with live eyes and ears, and Justin Lagat with stay up much of the night to send us his columns.