I'm writing this note on Friday evening in Rhodes. All of the athletes needed to arrive by today, specifically 5:00 pm, in order to get their preferred start location on the start line.
On race day, athletes are introduced in the order of their world ranking. After being introduced, each athlete immediately walks to the starting box of their preference. For this race, starting boxes are marked on the carpeting that overlays a wooden platform. The wooden platform sits directly on the beach and it will be a run, then dive start.
Sometimes, the start lines are on top of pontoons located in the water. A pontoon start is a diving start.
This morning, some of the Team BG athletes swam in the pool that sits in a beautiful location overlooking the ocean. Other athletes wanted to swim in the ocean to test the current and water temperature. This will be a non-wetsuit swim due to the 26-degree Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit) water temperature.
It is fun to hear athletes from different countries speaking their native languages. While I know the world is a big place, traveling to international races is always a great reminder for me that I live in a very small corner of earth.
Five of the nine athletes racing for Team BG at this race were at the Vancouver race I supported in early June. That particular race was cold and rainy. It was a wetsuit swim due to the chilly water temperature.
Somehow, one of the athletes got the wise idea that if any of them placed in the top ten, the support staff should take a dip in the cold, cold, cold water. I did take my suit and towel with me on race day, expecting I would take a blue-lip dip. The highest placing Team BG athlete was 11th.
That athlete, Lisa Norden, wanted a proposition for this race.
Gale says to herself, "Sweet! The water is wonderful here, I'd be more than happy to go in and pay on that bet."
Before knowing the proposition, and based on my assumption, I say "Sure, a race bet is in order!"
Ah...not so fast...Lisa's proposition for this race was that if any of the athletes on Team BG place in the top 10, support staff will take a plunge off of the 5-meter platform that sits in the ocean within the circumference of the course.
I am now in the beautiful city of Rhodes on the island of Rhodes, Greece. I arrived to my hotel yesterday, Tuesday, at 2:30 pm local time (5:00 am Mountain Standard Time). It felt pretty good considering I left my home in Colorado on Monday morning at 8:00 am.
I flew from Denver, Colorado to Montreal Canada. That flight was about 3:30 long. I had to go through customs in Montreal, pick up my baggage and go through the flight check-in process for a second time. With nearly zero layover time, I jumped on a plane to Athens, Greece. The Montreal to Athens flight was 9:00.
My luggage was checked from Athens to Rhodes, so I only needed to go through immigration. The flight from Athens to Rhodes was easy, only about an hour. My total "up" time, from real bed to real bed was 30 hours.
As I was going through the travel process, I couldn't help but think of the athletes that were traveling from all parts of the world to race in Rhodes. Most of them have learned to travel well. This means learning to sleep and eat while traveling across multiple time zones. Then, they must deliver a top-shelf race performance.
In my last blog, I mentioned my travel was to support the ITU BG Sport Development Team. One of the athletes, Lisa Norden was here when I arrived and the remaining athletes are arriving today, tomorrow and one on Friday.
Here are the athletes racing on Team BG:
Lisa Norden (Sweden)
Flora Duffy (Bermuda)
Fabiola Corona (Mexico)
Yuliya Yelistratova (Ukraine)
Mari Rabie (South Africa)
Dan Alterman (Israel)
Zvonko Cubric (Croatia)
Leonardo Chacon (Costa Rica)
Javier Cuevas (Dominican Republic)
As the team continues to arrive, I will post photos of the athletes.
In the mean time, the photo at the beginning of the blog shows one of the entrances to the "old town" of Rhodes that is literally enclosed by the stone walls. Part of the bike course goes around these hand-built, historic walls.
Within the city walls are shops and several historical sites. The first thing that grabbed my attention when I entered the old city was a gigantic stone ball. As I walked through the first courtyard, I saw more individual stones and piles of stones. The photo at the end of the column shows a pile of stones next to part of an old weapon. I'm assuming the weapon was a type of cannon, but I will need to confirm. I have seen the term "bombard" (a type of late medieval siege weapon) used in some of the literature, but I don't know the difference between a bombard and a cannon .
As the story goes, bombards were used to launch 260 kg (572 pound) stone balls some 100 to 200 meters (110 to 219 yards) to defend the city against attackers.
Looking at the defense weapons and the architecture, I am just amazed at the human labor it took to manufacture 500+ pound stone balls and to assemble walls around a city. The chasm of differences between the old world and the current era is mind boggling. Imagine, if you will, what life was like then.
If you would have told them, that you arrived on a "jet" that flew across the clouds and air from a land called USA to their island, what do you think they would have said to you?