Saturday, 26 March 2011

Mixing with the Stars in Barcelona

By Becky Alexander

One of the running highlights of 2010 was a trip to watch the British team perform brilliantly in the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in August. Athletics-fan Gill "statto" Jubb invited a few running friends to join her to watch the team at the Montjuic Olympic stadium.
I imagined lots of watching athletics in the sun and long lazy lunches between the morning and the cooler evening sessions.

However, my first reminder that I was with “The Striders” was on arrival at our apartment, when bags were put down and before you could say “coffee anyone?”, half the group had changed into their running kit to go for their first run!

There was running or swimming on every day for those who wanted to join in. I discovered that one reason, why Liz, Sally, Gill and company are so fast, is that they do DO a LOT more running than me!

I did inform Steve and Mike that I seem to have found myself on a training camp.
Watching Mo Farrah and Chris Tomlinson run the 5K and 10K and Jessica Ennis excel in all disciplines in the heptathlon was inspirational.

I am sure many of you watched the events on TV so I won't go in to all the results. What I will say is that I had never watched an Athletics competition “live” before, and I would recommend that if you can go to Paris in 2011, or one closer to home, do go if you can.

If you have children and teenagers, it is well worth taking them as it is amazing to see athletics close up. The event was very tightly organised and there was always something to watch in all areas of the stadium.

So here are some highlights:

1.    Liz, Gill, Sally and Vicky meeting Mo Farrah while out running before his 5000m final.
The girls were out for their own training run and to watch the marathon in the city centre. They saw Mo running through a park and he was very happy to have a photo taken with them. We are sure, knowing he had such support spurred him on to his sprint lap and his win in 13.31.18!
5K in 13.31 minutes!!! I would still be running at least ten minutes later!!! Very impressive performance!

2.    Watching Dai Greene win the 400m hurdles (48.12) and celebrate with his family who were sitting near us in the Stadium.
Such a proud Dad! We met them for a drink and photos later that day. Jamie Baulch is now acting as his manager, so he joined us as well.

3.    Seeing how high Blanka Vlasic can jump (2.03!), which is basically over all our heads.
She is not built like other humans on the planet!

4.    Seeing how calm and focused Jess Ennis is during her events.
She is an inspirational role model.

5.    Singing the National Anthem loudly, on many occasions. The team did so well and it was fantastic to see the huge amount of support for them in the stadium.

During the “Athletics-breaks” we made the most of Barcelona.

We all swam in the pools on Montjuic Park: one huge municipal outdoor pool, looking out over the city with an infinity edge, so you get the most amazing view.
We also swam in the Olympic outdoor pool, which shows films some evenings.
The very good swimmers among us loved the huge deep pool and of course, all of us enjoyed the loungers and sunshine!

We had some fabulous food including outstanding tapas and delicious paella, and sat in sunny squares enjoying Cava and beers.

Lucy Waterlow seems to know everyone in athletics, so was an amazing social organiser. Sally had terrific Spanish, which was very helpful, while I talked everyone into eating things perhaps they wished they hadn't.

A very good and very inspirational trip!

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