If today had been a box of chocolates the prevailing flavor would be bittersweet.
On this, the opening day of the Olympic Games, I went five for five in my quest to run the top ten running events “half as fast” as the standing world records, as I posted a 16.3 100m and a 34.33 200m. Each time would have to be regarded as personal bests, since I have run these events so rarely in life. I mean, when was the last time someone timed you in the 200m?
While the times were fine, the real sweetness came from the warm welcome that was shown to me by the members of the ASV Berlin Athletics Club, which calls the Poststadion their home. With arms wide open, they hosted race2walk2016.com and made me feel like a visiting champion.
It was the best example of the Olympic spirit possible. Sportsmen and women who saw someone with a goal and did everything in their power to insure that I had the best possible conditions to achieve that goal.
If you have read my earlier posts, you’ll know that I had been denied in Deutschland. The staff at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, site of the 1936 Games that took place 80 years ago this week, determined that they “could not support” my project. This meant that this perfect storm, the Opening of the Olympics, the date anniversary of Jesse Owens third Gold Medal in 200m in ’36, the track where Usain Bolt set his world records in both races, and my dream of running in the shadow of it all to raise funds for the Bridging Bionics Foundation, went a waistin’. Bitter.
Maybe we’ll try it again in another twenty years for the centenary anniversary.
Fortunately, and totally inexplicably, I stumbled upon the Poststadion as a backup. And the serendipity made it all the sweeter.
After a week of gray skies and a morning of pouring rain, the sun came out as Linda and I arrived at the track for the sprints. A small cadre of ASV club members were there to help me get to the finish.
Helmut Böhm, an 83-year old former German sprinter, now down a leg but still filled with the spirit of a champion, came out to start the race. He brought his addidas spikes from the 1950s to show me.
His wife Margaret, an athletics jurist brought her verification forms and records book to record the events in German track officialdom. Barbara Jensch, an eight time German Champion in the shot put, javelin (the “spear” she called it as she mimicked the throw), and the discus, and her son, Michael, organized the track. And Droege Holger, a club trainer, provided the appropriate translation and moved us all forward. It was an amazing display of support.
And, at the end of the day, the gang gave me a medal in honor of race2walk2016.com. I look forward to sharing it with the folks from the Bridging Bionics Foundation on my return.
Now it is on to Oxford. The 800m is Sunday morning and I am nursing a sore hamstring from my 200m, but we shall give it a go.
After all, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna’ get.