Friday, October 19, 2018

OCR World Championships Day 1

We were up early, 6:30, as we wanted to get breakfast before heading out to the event location (at Nuclear Races event location, north of Brentwood) at 8:15 with Mike, Mandy and Jon. I drove the rental.

We ran into Jamie again, and another woman that goes to Cor.Fit, but who's name we couldn't remember. That's at least 8 people from Cor.Fit (our gym) at the World Championships.

My race didn't go until 11:00, but me and Tracy walked around and checked out the obstacles, and watched some of the early racers doing the course. This event is very spectator friendly, spectators can pretty much walk around the whole course, so it's awesome.

Today was the 3k race, with 25 (maybe 24, they removed an obstacle from the race) obstacles. I queued up with Jamie, Lucas and Graham, from Cor.Fit, as the grouped a bunch of different age groups together. They only let 10 people go at a time (every minute), and I was near the rear of the group, so it was after 11:30 until I finally got to the start gate.

I'm ecstatic that I completed the 3k race, and 25/24 obstacles successfully, kept my band and got my medal. It was actually relatively easy, with the training we do at Cor.Fit, nothing was really that difficult. I hate running, though, so I'll pass people on the obstacles, then they'll pass me again running to the next obstacle. Haha. If I had the desire to really improve my running, I'd be unstoppable!

I had a total time of 29m 55s. I finished 76th out of 202 racers in my age category (non-pro). 427th out of 1070 men in the open (non-pro) division.

The pro racers started in the afternoon, and everyone was excited to see them, as the best OCR racers in the world are here, including Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Webster, both Canadians and two of the best OCR racers in the world.

To put my time into perspective, the top pro racer today was Jonathon Albon, with a time of 15m 37s. (Ryan Atkins was second place, with a time of 16m 07s.)

Anyway, we all headed back to Brentwood mid-afternoon, and Tracy and I went to The Swan pub for an early dinner, then back to the hotel room, watched tv, did journal stuff and photo stuff and showered to get all the mud off of me.

Tomorrow is the longer 15k race with 100 obstacles. I'll probably be running very slowly (and even walking) lots of it. I've never done a longer obstacle course race (did I mention I hate running?), so it'll be interesting.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Off to Brentwood

We were both really tired from not sleeping on the plane, and jet lag. Tracy was in bed early, like 8:30. I stayed up until almost 10:00. I slept pretty good, but woke up around midnight:30 when Tracy got up to go to the toilet. She complained she wasn't tired anymore, and she didn't really sleep the rest of the night. I did manage to get back to sleep after about an hour, and only woke up when I heard a power saw was 8:55am!

Tracy was super grumpy, and neither of us were particularly hungry, so we skipped breakfast, checked out and got on the Underground for Liverpool Station and got on a train for Brentwood.

The people of London are crazy. There are pedestrian crosswalks everywhere, but half the population don't even follow the crosswalk lights, and cross all the time, in front of cars all the time. And cars don't even seem to care, they slow down, honk their horns, and keep going.

We got to Brentwood about 10:30am, walked to the Premiere Inn (2 minutes from the train station) but check-in doesn't start until 2:00pm, so they stored our bags while we went walking around downtown Brentwood. We went for breakfast at the Slug and Lettuce restaurant, then wandered around downtown, Tracy bought a dress, I bought some socks and then got a haircut. Back to the hotel and checked-in.

For the weekend, we are renting a car with three others that go to Cor.Fit with us (Mandy, Jon and Mike). Tracy and I had tickets for the opening dinner tonight at 6:00, so there was no point in us going to the event earlier to pick up our registration packages. So they drove up there for noon to pick up their packages, then came back, and we took the car. Unfortunately they were unable to add me as an additional driver without me being there, so I had to drive back to Romford in rush hour traffic without being on the rental car contract, driving a standard transmission on the left side of the road, a 30 minute drive. It was kind of stressful, but I made it without incident. Once I was on the rental car contract, I felt comfortable.

After doing that, we headed up to the event village, at the Nuclear Races Event Village, north of Brentwood (got there about 6:30) and registered, got our packages and had some pig roast pork on a bun. I paid 35 pounds for both of Tracy, and I found out that others paid 25 pounds, and at the event, they weren't even checking to see if you had paid, they were giving pork to everyone. We were also told we could eat as much as we want, but they were almost out when we were there, so it was a single serving. Disappointed in that.

While we were waiting in line for our race packages, we ran into another guy that goes to Cor.Fit (Jamie). He was going to take a cab back from the event village to where he was staying (with some of his family, south of Brentwood), so instead we took him back to Brentwood, then he cabbed it back from there. Since Tracy didn't eat much at the pig roast, we went out to a restaurant near the hotel, then back to the room.

Also staying at the same hotel as us and Mandy, Jon and Mike, are Lucas and Graham. They are trainers at Cor.Fit, and still teenagers, and are here with their famiies, which is pretty cool. There's a ton of Cor.Fit people at the OCR WC!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

London, England

Back for another trip.

This time Tracy and I are heading to the OCR World Championships just outside of London, England, just north of Brentwood at the Nuclear Races headquarters.

Tracy and I had a 10:30pm flight from Calgary on British Airways. My brother Darren drove us to the airport, after we drove to his place and left our car there.

Uneventful flight to London, but we both hardly slept on the plane.

We took the Underground from Heathrow to King's Cross and got checked into our hostel late in the afternoon.

Not too much to report, we went to an English pub for a supper, but no booze for us days before the races! Just food. No servers here, we had to order our food at the bar, and then they deliver it to your table when it's ready. No tipping is needed here either.

After supper, we wandered around. An old church had signs for a "crypt gallery"...our interest piqued, we wandered around the back of the church, and it ended up that a bunch of people were setting up a somewhat macabre art exhibition in the basement of the chuch, in the old crypts. They were not yet open, but I mentioned we weren't going to be here for the weekend, so he took us on a partial tour of what they had setup anyway, which was kinda nice.

St. Pancras International Train Station, which is celebrating it's 150th anniversary, with a newly restored building, was quite fabulous to wander around. It's very trendy, lots of shops and restaurants now live in the train station (along with the trains).

At the last minute, I remembered that King's Cross was the station featured in Harry Potter (Platform 9 3/4 anyone?), so we visited the platform 9 3/4 and the tourist shop attached to it. I'm indifferent to Harry Potter, but Tracy is a big fan. We will be checking out the real Harry Pottery exhibit when we are back in London next week.

We were both dead tired from our flight, so made it back to the hotel shortly after 8:00. Tomorrow we are making our way to Liverpool Street station and getting a train to Brentwood.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Day in Stone Town Before Leaving

Today was the last day of our trip.

We got up (we both slept great) and had breakfast, checked out and waited for Mr. Hamad, our taxi driver, to arrive. He arrived right on schedule, and we explained what we'd like to do today. He arranged a tour guide for us for Stone Town, and also arranged to have our bags stored at the Zanzibar Hotel for the day, while we toured Stone Town.

About an hour drive back to Stone Town, and dropped our bags off at the Zanzibar Hotel, and met our guide. He was like an encyclopedia of Stone Town history. First was the slave memorial and museum, which was very interesting and a sad history of Africa. Most of the slaves in East Africa went to India, Europe and Arab countries (US got their slaves from West Africa).

We then walked around Stone Town, and saw numerous other sites, including the large market (veggies, fruits, chickens, meat and everything else under the sun), the house where Freddie Mercury was born and grew up, the two non-Muslim churches and lots of other historical buildings and museums, and the waterfront, which was very nice. It was a great tour that lasted about 3 hours.

After the tour, he took us back to the Zanzibar Hotel, then Tracy and me went wandering down the twisty streets in search of something to eat. We ate at a nice little cafe, then wandered down to the waterfront. Lots and lots of tourists around here, getting tours, wandering around, buying "stuff". Lots of souvenir shops all over Stone Town as well, of course.

We managed to get back to the Zanzibar Hotel without getting lost, and headed to the airport around 7:00 and got our flight to Dar es Salaam (a 15 minute flight).

Our KLM flight from Dar es Salaam wasn't scheduled to leave until 11:55pm, so we had a long wait at a crappy airport. Soon after we arrived at the Dar es Salaam airport, we discovered that our KLM flight was delayed by 2 hours and 45 minutes. Ugh. KLM didn't even have the check-in counters open yet, so we had to wait around in the check-in hall for hours before KLM finally started doing check-ins. Then, as the flight was considered a "new" flight, the staff had great difficulty in getting boarding passes created for everything. It was a long and tedious affair, but we finally got through and our flight left at about 2:45am, I think. Fortunately our connecting flight in Amsterdam (to Calgary), we had a 5+ hour layover, so there was no danger of us missing our connection.

And, that's the end of the African adventure.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Moving to the Hilton

We got up and had breakfast and asked if we could stay another night. After checking reservations, unfortunately they were booked up, so we had to find other accomodation. The Kajibange is the last place on the north western stretch of beach. Beside it is Gerry's Bar (me and Tracy tried to go there last evening, but nobody was around to serve us. Just three guys sleeping the chairs.), and beside that is the Hilton, called the DoubleTree by Hilton. We went there, and it was $280 US (Kajibange was $60), but Tracy said "Screw you Todd, I like it, we're staying." and pulled out her credit card. Haha.

We had left our bags at Kajibange, so after getting checked in (including a drink and the "famous" DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie), we walked back and collected our bags.

Sat around the Hilton for a bit, then walked down the beach to the turtle sanctuary near the lighthouse. They take in injured or lost baby turtles, raise them, then when they are two years old, they release them. They have an annual turtle release date of Feb. 20, which would be cool to see. When we were walking down there, and at the sanctuary, both of us were sweating bullets, and we didn't know why. Why stopped at a covered rest area at the sanctuary, where a little kitten curled up on Tracy's lap and fell asleep.

We walked back to the Hilton and went to the pool with a swim-up bar.

I also called our taxi driver who had taken us from the airport to Kajibange a couple of days ago, Mr. Hamad (+255-777-418944) if you need a great taxi driver. :-) We arranged for him to pick us up at the Hilton tomorrow at 11:00am and also told him our plan to tour Stone Town tomorrow, and hoping he could help us store our bags somewhere and then take us to the airport later in the afternoon.

We had booked a sunset tour yesterday, so at 4:00 we went back to Kajibange to wait for our pickup. Once collected, we walked down the western side of the beach to where the sunset tour boats are and missed it. The "captain" said that's ok, we'll get on another boat. They have lots of boats available, and they go out when they have enough people on it, so we had 10 people on our boat. The first boat that went out was packed, about 20-25 people crammed on it, so we were lucky.

Sunset tour finished about 6:30, we want to the Fisherman's Grill restaurant at the Hilton for supper, then went back to Gerry's Bar, which was happening tonight. To bed around 10:00.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Day in Zanzibar

We slept in a bit and had breakfast shortly after 8:00. Then walked along the white sand beach, along an endless line of restaurants, guest houses, high-end hotels, souvenir shops, dive shops and tour companies. Fortunately, it's not like Cancun with massive hotels stretched along the beach for miles, this is much more toned down and much smaller. Of course you get your locals all trying to sell you things, like sunglasses, bracelets, boat tours. There are even quite a number of Masai here, trying to get you to come to their little souvenir shop. We bought a few things, I got an awesome hat made of coconut skin, it's so light and cool.

Back to the guest house to relax. We decided we're going to spend another night here, but Kajibange can't let us know if they have something available for tomorrow night yet, so we'll see tomorrow morning.

Not too much to report today.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Off to Zanzibar

We had a 9:00am flight, destination Zanzibar. We got up around 5:30 and got packed, and to the airport around 7:00am.

We flew Kenya Airways from Entebbe to Nairobi, then a 1-hour layover in Nairobi, then to Dar es Salaam, where we had to go through immigration. Fortunately, we got our visa when we first arrived at Kilimanjaro at the start of the trip, so we bypassed the visa payment line and went through immigration without hassles. We collected our baggage from the international arrivals area, then carried them to the domestic departures and got checked in. We had a 3.5 layover here, and the terminal in Dar es Salaam pretty much sucks ass. As our departure time was getting closer, there was hardly anyone in the departure area, and we were getting concerned we weren't in the right spot. I did ask a worker and she said we were ok. There was also one other tourist couple (and a handful of locals), and it ends up they were on the same flight, so at least we were in it together.

The flight was on a smaller propeller plane and was probably only 1/3 full, but the flight was only 20 minutes. No sooner had we taken off, then we were already preparing for landing.

We bypassed all the immigration/customs at the airport and collected our baggage and exited the airport, hoping to see someone holding a piece of paper with our names on it, as we had asked the guest house to pick us up. No luck, nobody there, but that was ok. There were lots of transport/taxi people around. One of them started talking to us, as it was clear we didn't have a ride, so after waiting for 15 minutes, we hired him to take us to Kajibange Bar & Guest House for the same price that the guest house pickup was going to be ($50 USD). He first took us to a bank machine in town, then headed out. The taxi guy stopped along the highway and picked up some BBQ corn on the cob for his supper. It was about 1.5 hour drive to Nungwi, on the north side of the island. As we were driving through town, it looked like a war zone, and I imagined that's how Aleppo would look like, dilapidated and ruined buildings, destitute people and dogs wandering around. Around 6:30pm, we came around the back way, to the car entrance to Kajibange, and Tracy eyes were wide, like "What are we doing here? This place is a disaster." She had a WTF look on her face. She thought we were in Mad Max or something. After entering through the gate, however, we were greeted with a wonderful beachfront guest house, reggae music playing on the speaker. This place is run by a Rastafarian guy (where 99% of the island is Muslim), and it's totally laid back. We got checked in to an awesome bungalow room, except the bed is about 4 feet off the ground, and you have to jump up to get into the bed. We went to the restaurant/bar area. Imagine an open, covered air bar/restaurant, all wood, lots of little tables, chairs, hammocks, lounging beds, and cold, cold beer in a deep freezer. It was kind of heaven. The rest of the property is all sand pathways and very well kept and clean.

After eating (I had grilled king fish, Tracy had jumbo (or maybe tiger) prawn salad. After eating and relaxing, we literally jumped into bed.