by: Robert Johnson, LetsRun.com
March 25, 2015
Editor’s note: The last time LRC co-founder Robert Johnson was sent to World Cross Country by himself in 2009 he rode camels in Jordan and wrote an entertaining blog. Now he’s off on his own to Guiyang, China, so we’re back with Rojo’s World Tour.
33 hours, 41 minutes and 56 seconds after I left my apartment I made it to my hotel in Guiyang, China, for the 2015 World Cross Country Championships.
I had a short flight from Baltimore to Chicago, then a three- or four-hour layover, then a 14-hour flight to Shanghai, then a five-hour layover, then a three-hour flight to Guiyang.
My flight from Chicago to Shanghai was delayed but that didn’t affect the travel time. That ended up being a good thing as they comped all alcoholic beverages on the flight and it just shortened my layover in Shanghai from seven to five hours.
Now, maybe I shouldn’t be talking about all the free drinks I got because there already is speculation on the message boards that I was overserved in the Admirals Club in Chicago.
Let me set the record straight. For the record, I had seven drinks over the course of 23 hours. Free drinks are much cheaper and less harmful than sleeping pills. Two at the Admirals Club in Chicago after they told me I had a free pass because of my credit card. Now, I had woken up at 3:45 am to catch my flight and at that point I told Weldon he needed to finish the Week that Was because I was tired. He then slandered me on the message board.
A few beers on the plane to sleep and then I was rewarded with this in Shanghai:
Budweiser and Burger King. It doesn’t get much better than that. Apparently Alan Webb agrees.
The Moroccan team was on my flight to Guiyang and they took the opportunity of the layover to sleep on the floor. If the last worlds is any indication — where Teklemariam Medhin slept at the airport for two days and still got a bronze — that means they will do really well.
Not much to report about the Shanghai airport except for one cultural phenomenon. Nearly all the billboards (except for the Buick ones) had white people on them. In Guiyang, there are a lot more Chinese people on billboards.
After about 30 hours of travel, we waited for an hour at the Guiyang airport. The layover was fine and it let me see some teams arriving and this:
Team Japan with face masks.
As we kept waiting on a bus, we finally asked who we were waiting for. They said six people from Tanzania who had been on our flight. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I thought, because that wasn’t possible.
Kenyan journalist Mutwiri Mutuota and a Ugandan journalist were sitting next to me and had been on my flight. Mutwiti said something along the lines of, “They weren’t on that plane. I was one of two black people on the plane.” Our Chinese hosts quickly understood and we were on our way.
If anyone is looking for an advantage for the U.S. team, it could be the travel. Mutwiri said Team Kenya left in the evening at 8 or 9 p.m. their time on Tuesday and won’t be here until Thursday morning, two days before the race. That’s like 30+ hours of travel for them as well. Meanwhile Team USA has been here since Monday I think.
Rain and the Kenyans
On the way to the hotel, we were talking about whether it would rain on Saturday.
Mutwiri hoped not, “The Kenyans run well in the snow, but not well in the rain. No one knows why.” He said if it starts raining on a training run in Kenya many of the runners will stop and go for a hike.
It was just a light mist today. Guiyang may be a mountainous place where it mists often but doesn’t rain a lot. I’ll let you guys know tomorrow.
Now I get five hours of sleep. The good news is I get to do it in the VIP hotel. After I left Baltimore, I received an email saying all the journalists were being upgraded to the VIP hotel for free (usually at these events there are a range of hotels you can stay at).
The upgraded hotel is pretty sweet. The curtains are electric and open and close themselves. I have a balcony. Not sure if it shows a good view or not as it is dark out. I need sleep more than anything so dark is really good right now. Hopefully, I don’t pull a Wejo and sleep through everything tomorrow just like he did at the first Olympics he ever covered. I’m going to start setting the record straight that I’m the responsible twin.
More tomorrow. In the meantime, more travel photos below (click for a larger photo):