Monday, 27 April 2009

Mick Jagger once famously and rather harshly called Invercargill the ars#hole of the world. Well the Rolling Stones obviously never played Buffalo!

I'm killing time here enroute to Chicago from Boston because I wanted to tick the Niagara Falls box. The world's greatest volume of fresh water spilling over a cliff did not disappoint and nor did Boston. But Buffalo's soul-less state has been a mere blip on a wonderful sporting jaunt around the USA.
From watching Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson do battle at the Masters, to hitting golf balls into the snake-infested rough of a Nevada desert golf resort, to visiting the Muhammad Ali centre in Louisville, seeing Churchill Downs - the home of the Kentucky Derby, watching baseball bats being made at the Louisville Slugger bat factory, to surviving the Boston Marathon, this trip has been a priviledge and an eye-opener.

America is a land of vast contrasts - climatically, culturally and financially. Some cities - Las Vegas, Atlanta, Augusta and obviously Buffalo - I will probably not bother to visit again.
Ah but Boston! Beautiful Boston! I'm going back to this remarkable city even though I spent possibly the most painful 3 hours and 55 minutes of my life there. But you can't hold a grudge because Bostonites are such wonderful supporters of the great race that has taken place since 1897, the year following the birth of the modern mararthon as we know it, at the Athens Olympics.

My running mates at Boston were a couple of good Southland farmers. Seaward Downs cow cocky, Big Kev Hall, proved the quickest of the three of us, getting home in 3:44. Heddon Bush playboy, Ken Dykes, on yet another international jet-setting jaunt, was again cruelly robbed of breaking the magical four hour barrier because he couldn't break wind, quite literally. A midnight mix-up between some sleeping pills he thought he was taking and the anti-diarrhea pills he accidentally took, meant he had to haul an extra payload around the historic 42.2 km course.

Not to be deterred though, he was quick to perk up and declare his candidacy for the 100th anniversary running of the Riverton to Invercargill marathon later this year, where he hopes wind of another kind, namely a gale-force westerly, will finally see him home in under four hours!

We were also lucky enough to catch up with well-known Southland running identity Mike Piper in Boston. Mike took us for a pre-race orientation tour of the infamous Heartbreak Hill and we had an enjoyable ale or two in the Harvard area as we nervously pondered our running fate. He is a wonderful running ambassador for his province and his total in-excess of 100 marathons completed is testament to his ability, training ethic, longevity and downright enthusiasm.

His time of 3:52 wasn't bad either for an old bugger!


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