Monday, 11 June 2012

Fifteen Venues Later

It's 10th June 2012, and I'm sitting in yet another airport.  The final destination has been visited, and another Olympic venue to add to my list.  St Moritz was everything that I expected, and more; the perfect place to finish my travels.

To say that the weather is temperamental is an understatement.  In the space of eight days I saw rain, snow, wind, cloud, and sunshine.  The snow I guess was the biggest surprise, but it wasn't a great deal - two inches is easily melted by lunchtime, and for once my 'owl' personality played to my strength!  This morning I had not choice though, and I was out in the snow for my final run at altitude for a while.  The beauty of running in the snow at that time of the morning is that the only footsteps are yours - there's a certain sense of pride in knowing that you're up, out and at it while everyone else is sleeping.  The downside of course is that, despite being alone, if feels like you're in the middle of a giant snowball fight - the trees periodically lightening their branches of their load.

Already in the past two years I have been at or inside the Olympic stadiums of Mexico City, Moscow, Barcelona, Melbourne and London.  While Winter Olympic cities don't have a stadium in the same sense as the Summer Games do, they do usually still have a central arena of some description.  St Moritz, home to the Games in 1928 and 1948, has a building which overlooks the old ice rink (now a driving range), just beside the world's longest natural bob run.  The stadium building looks the same on the outside as it did all those years ago, but has since been converted into residential apartments inside.

St Moritz is very much the home of winter sports.  It has held the world bobsleigh and skeleton championships a record 21 times and in 1904, the world’s longest, and last remaining natural bob run was opened.  It was chosen as the venue for the 1948 Games because of Switzerland's neutrality during the war, and because the facilities used for the 1928 Games gave them the head start they needed with only 18 months lead-in time. 

St. Moritz isn't just about snow though, and is ideally set up for training is almost any sport.  For athletes like me who love a bit of variety, and prefer off-road routes, it's like heaven on earth.  I did 14 runs while I was there, and no two of them were the same.  In fact if I had stayed another week, I would still be discovering new routes.  And the best bit - the trails started just 10 metres outside of my apartment.  For a runner, you can't ask for much more than that.  Well you could ask for a track close by I suppose.  Well what do you know, that was less than half a mile away.

Apart from the running, there hasn't been much to report.  I celebrated a birthday - well I spent all my pocket money on a small pastry, enjoyed it with a cup of tea, and acknowledged the passing of another year.  I've been pretty organised for me.  The flights have been booked since Christmas, the accommodation sorted 3 weeks ago, and the transport from Zurich to St Moritz researched well in advance. Incident wise it's been pretty plane sailing - no missed trains or flights, no last minute hick-ups,  no clumsy accidents.  Ok, that's a lie.  But I was doing well until yesterday when I was on an escalator.  Absorbed in getting photos of the fine artwork displayed I managed to forget that I would reach the top at some stage.  The escalator delivered me to my destination, I was standing still, back facing the wrong way, and almost fell over right in front of a group of people.  Luckily I do the embarrassed look very well (years of practice I suppose), so they didn't need to say anything.  I walked away with nothing hurt but my pride, and they got a smile out of it.  Everyone's a winner!

 Anyway, I mentioned something about not missing a flight - better go catch this one back to London.

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