Well this post is a little delayed (sorry) but, after a long travel home from Glasgow I slept for a few hours in my own bed then turned around and headed off for a week of serious R & R on my parent’s boat. No internet, no TV and most importantly no training. Just Rachel, Andrew (my twin brother), Mum & Dad and me out on the open sea (more like sheltered inlets) for a week. The weather was warm, the beer was cold, it was great! But I’m back home now and figure it’s time to do a little recap from the Games.
To sum it up in a single word the Games were incredible! Glasgow outdid itself as a host city and my expectations for the Commonwealth Games were well surpassed. Beside the fact that the stadiums were all sold out, the competition was strong and the organization was top notch, the people from Glasgow (and all of Scotland for that matter) were the damn nicest people I have ever met. Seriously! They were the most helpful and genuine people you can find on this planet. There is a saying (apparently) that, in Edinburgh, if you ask someone for directions, they will give them to you very politely. In Glasgow, with equal politeness, they will say, “Come on, I’ll take you there”. This proved true more than a few times. And, the Scottish hospitality didn’t stop there, they even dished out some of the best Scottish weather you can hope for… 15 degrees and raining almost every day! I felt like I was back home in Vancouver!
So I got into Glasgow quite a bit before my race, like 12 days before. But, this being my first major games I have no regrets, however, it was a long time to sit around and wait. Sure there was tons to do; opening ceremonies to attend, events to watch, castles to visit, scotch to drink, but when you preparing for the biggest race of the year (and arguably your life) you’re not so interested in walking about castles and tasting Scotch (as good as it may have sounded). Instead we were doing our final training runs and resting in our rooms. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were the highlights and luckily the food was pretty darn good! …especially considering the 7000 person army they were feeding!
My last few workouts went great. I was coming off recent PBs in both the steeple and the 1500 so my confidence was high and I knew I was ready to lay down a good one. All week people kept on telling me how amazing the crowds have been and how they have just lifted their performance with the strength of their cheers. They didn’t lie. As I walked into the stadium that night and 50,000 people rose from their seats I got chills down my back. I remember looking back at Taylor Milne and just giving him the goofiest grin. This was special. We walked in single file around the curve and down the backstretch where we were then given a few minutes to do our final strides. With a Scot in the race the crowd was already cheering loud and when someone cleared a height in the pole-vault the crowd roared so loud I could barely hear myself think. Amazingly (But not surprisingly) above the noise there was one voice that rose above them all. When I looked over there was Thelma wright about 20-30 rows back on the back strength waving her Canadian flag madly, screaming at me, Taylor and Matt. I have known Thelma for most of my athletic career and it was pretty special seeing her at that moment.
On the start line there were 3 Kenyans, (and not just any Kenyans) one of them was, Ezekiel Kemboi the 2x Olympic Steeplechase Champion (Pretty good), One of them had run the fastest time in the world this year at 8:03 and the other one ended up beating them both to become the Commonwealth Games Champion. They were all studs. Then there were 3 Canadians, 2 Brits an Aussie and a Scot to make 10. Not a big field by any means and when the race went out at ridiculous 59 seconds for the first 400 meters (World record pace is a meagre 63 seconds) the field was shattered apart. 2 Kenyans led and I was hanging onto the back of a small chase pack that had formed which included Kemboi, Matt Hughes from Canada and Wilkinson the Brit. We were rolling and came through the first 1km in 2:42-2:43, by far the fastest opening 1000m of my life! But I felt relaxed and strong and kept rolling with it. I tried to keep the gap to a minimum but around the halfway mark in the race the gap had opened up just enough that I was then on my own. I had put a good gap on the group behind me so I was left on my own to get through the final 3 laps. It never got ugly and I worked hard to stay with it but the time just seemed to slip away and I crossed the line in 6th just managing to duck under 8:30 for a final time of 8:29.83. My 2nd fastest time of the season and 5th fastest all time. There were no fist pumps or pictures of me taking off my singlet coming down the homestretch but, after I crossed the finished line I took a look around at the 50,000+ fans packed into Hampden Park Stadium that evening and smiled. I came into the race hoping for a bit more but I was pleased with my effort that night. It was a special moment and an experience I won’t soon forget.
Throughout the games, and especially afterwards, when the media and bean counters all looked to sum up the Games and put them into perspective, it seemed that all everyone wanted to do was to compare these games with the Olympics. This confused me. I’m not sure why anyone would walk to try to compare anything with the Olympics. The Olympics are on a stage of their own and I’m not sure there is anyone out there that believes the Commonwealth Games are “more” important or even on a same level. That said, the Commonwealth Games still serve a purpose and are unique and special to themselves. They are a huge milestone in any athlete’s career and anyone that suggests the Commonwealths Games are no longer relevant were not in Glasgow this summer and I bet you that you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that attended a session at Hampden Park to say these Games don’t mean anything anymore. These Games were electrifying and provided every competitor with a great experience that will help prepare them and set the stage for Rio in two years’ time.
I just want wrap this little wrap up with a big thanks to everyone who has been there for me this past season. There were many of you! Thanks to DST and the whole team at Speed River, Chris Napier, Chris Munford, Kris Mychasiw, Trent Stellingwerff, Kirsten Barnes and especially to my family and Rachel. I’d also like to say thank you to my great sponsors; New Balance Canada, Inbox Marketer and MountainStream Elite! This was a year with some major highs and lows, thanks all for being there for me to help me get me back on my feet and chasing my dreams. Onwards to Rio!