Prior to arriving in London for the Olympics we were told repeatedly that the Olympics were different. How different could they be? It’s still a race walk. The rules don’t change. The course is a loop. We’ve seen all of the competitors before at other international meets, we’ve even seen most of the judges. What could be different about that? Well, after having been though our first one I can honestly say, just about everything.
We started to see the differences days before the event. the course walk-through was actually not a walk-through at all. For the most part it was a walk-beside. For half of the course nobody could walk on it, only beside it. For the other half of the course those without full accreditation could not even see it except for at a great distance.
The course was guarded by military personnel 24 hours per day. It was so unique that I would have taken a photo except that I was told by the folks in uniform that both myself and my camera would be confiscated. It was interesting to talk to the lads though. Seeing that we were from Canada they nearly all could tell us about their stay in Canada at the UK exchange base in Alberta.
The way that the course was set up half of the route was accessible and half was enclosed in a secure area that only ticketed or accredited folks could enter. The secure area contained all of the features that we need access to during the race except for the personal drinks station. We found out about this 10 days before the event. We informed Athletics Canada staff that at least one of us would need a pass to be able to do our job. Lots of promises and much discussion later, come race day we had no pass and no access. Luckily, Carmen Alvarez, Inaki’s long-standing (and long-suffering) partner came to the rescue. Through contacts that she had she rustled up a “magic” pass that not only allowed me to get in but allowed me to go almost anywhere I wanted. Thank you
I suppose that the prelude to any event that takes place in front of Buckingham Palace would not be complete without a visit from the Queens Guard and the boys in the band. We were treated to, among other classics, a rousing rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, which was both pleasant and fitting to the situation although odd to be coming from this band.
Using my magic pass I found a great spot just beyond the Finish line. I was joined at my little perch in front of the main stands by the Gomez-Goroztieta clan and friends. What at first seemed like a questionable idea form an athlete/coach perspective, having all of that distraction in our faces, turned out to be a game saver. We were in the only area on
This amazing feat could not have happened without the assistance of many people who worked selflessly behind the scenes, we’d like to thank:
- Blair Miller and Keith Cheek, travel maven/assistant coach and coach’s assistant
- Carmen Alvarez, ticket mistress and undying supporter
- The abuela, antidote to unreasonable authority
- The Gomez-Goroztieta clan, rabid fans
- Garfield Crooks, therapist extrordinaire, water boy and photographer par excellence
- Evan Dunfee, technical expert, training partner and world traveller
- The UBC cheerleading squad, you know who you are
- Marilou Lamay and Dr. Linda Thyer, medical support and true belief
- The Athletics Canada coaching and administrative staff, technical stuff and taking a chance on us
- Our training buds at Racewalk West, good humour, reality checks and unconditional love
- The staff at Sport Canada Pacific, training facilities and testing
- Brent Vallance and the AIS, rock solid support and the opportunity to train with the best
- Asics who keeps Inaki looking good
- all the rest of everyone else