Arrived at Boston's Logan International Airport at around 2:50 pm-- the same time as most of the other 18,000 runners for the 2000 marathon as far as I could tell. Spent a good two hours waiting for the shuttle to get to the Marriott in Cambridge some two miles from downtown Boston. Wiled away the majority of this time comparing notes with a rather rotund Englishman who had lived in Dallas for the last 17 years and had the most bizarre accent--a combination of John Lennon and George W. Bush with a dash of Elvis I speculated. "Hope I don't sound anything like that," I worried as I finally boarded the shuttle.
The shuttle driver was obviously a close relative of the fellow who had driven me along the same route the previous year--"Cliff Clavern" accent, an assumption that all his passengers were deaf, and no driving qualifications whatsoever. "Are you from Australia?" he asked confidently as I paid my fare. I smiled a fake smile and with a fake politeness replied, "No mate, I'm English." Thought to myself, "If I had a penny for every time I've been asked that question in the last 12 years . . . ." "All here for our marathon then?" the shuttle driver bellowed rather obviously just before take-off. Like his cousin, he spent most of the journey with one hand on the horn and unleashing a torrent of ribald but rather humorous abuse at any other driver or pedestrian who dared to cross his path. "Must be part of the training," I thought. Most of these gems couldn't be repeated in polite company. From the short list of cleaner one-liners, however, I took particular pleasure in the "must be from Mississippi" comment levelled at a dallying tourist.
Arrived at the hotel and, after a spectacular "splashdown," deposited my bags and donned my "official Boston Marathon jacket" before taking a taxi to the Convention Centre in order to pick up my race packet and visit the expo. Having spent a suspiciously long time in the taxi, seen several of the sights at least twice, and been asked if I was from New Zealand, I paid the "geographically challenged" cab driver what came out to be $10 a mile and scurried into race headquarters. "Same zoo as last year," I thought as I lined up to collect my race number, computer chip, and t-shirt. Spent the next hour and a half fighting the crowds and wandering up and down the rows of expo booths. Decided that I had no chance of winning the "Who Can Wear the Most Garments with 'the Boston Marathon' On Them" competition. Consumed vast amounts of free gels, protein bars, and energy drinks, and scoffed down a couple of those new fruit-cottage cheese combinations which I highly recommend. Had my gait analyzed, sampled a "revolutionary" foot massager, tried on 15 pairs of running shoes, and chatted with the rep for the Dublin marathon for half an hour without understanding a word he said. Escaped from the expo, munched on a grilled chicken salad in the adjoining mall, and sucked down my 10th bottled water of the day.
Took the train back to the hotel and was annoyed to find out that it was only 85 cents one way. Hopped back on the train and for another 85 cents visited MIT and Harvard. Explored each for about half and hour and felt much smarter. Decided that some of the students I teach who clearly believe that merely setting foot on a university campus produces results might be on to something after all!
Returned to the hotel to find that the other two members of the Tuscaloosa Track Club I was staying with had arrived. Kypros Nicolaou, a gifted Greek Cypriot, had had a pretty straightforward trip from Birmingham while Francois Jolly had not had the same good fortune while travelling from Paris. His flight had been delayed and his luggage had been left on the runway in London! Spent the evening chatting idly about old times and turned in at around 10:00 pm. Worried that I was a little stiff and ended up stretching for half an hour in the bathroom. Returned to bed at 11:30 pm and didn't sleep a wink!
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