Monday, August 22, 2011

The IAAF World Championships come to Daegu

This is an intersection of the generally non-intersecting themes of this blog, Korea and running. I went to Daegu for the first time last september and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the local government if underwhelmed by the city itself. Now the time is here for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, or track and field, if you will, to come to Daegu.

When I heard that the championships would be in Daegu a few years ago, I thought it was too bad, because there was no chance I'd be here. Now that I'm still here, albeit working, it's safe to say that I'll just be able to see all of the championships live and maybe catch a marathon. In theory, however, I could leave after work to catch a night event thanks to Korea's small size and excellent high-speed rail network mean that it's easier for me to travel the 200-300 kilometres to Daegu than it is to, say, go from one side of greater Toronto to the other.

You can catch previews of all the events here, though I prefer LetsRun if only because they're more critical, even though they're a little (okay, a lot) centred on white Americans, Americans and Europeans (and in that order).

The most interesting event, for me anyway, is the men's 10,000 where Kenenisa Bekele is expected to race for the first time in almost two years and try to win his fifth straight world title. Challenging him will be Mo Farah of Britain and then the usual list of Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea, Sileshi Sihine and Imane Merga of Ethiopia. Merga and Farah look to be the strongest of Bekele's challengers, if only because Bekele hasn't bested them the way he has beaten Sihine and Tadesse for years now.

I probably will try to go down for the men's marathon next Sunday, September 4, if for no other reason than the fact that I want to go hiking this Sunday, when the women's marathon happens. The course is basically three loops, making it possible to catch the leaders about six times near the start and finish of the loop if you're careful.

Seeing either marathon is great because the hot weather will both make you grateful that you're not running and appreciate the ability of whoever (look, this is as much a crapshoot as it is talent and preparation) manages to come out on top. I imagined that Beijing and then Daegu would be comparable to Osaka where no man ran faster than 2:17 and few broke 2:20, but Beijing disproved it (partly due to superior talent), but Osaka is also inhumanly hot. Daegu is hot, but I think not as hot as Osaka can be. Times should be classically slow, not so slow that you think they ran 44 km or someone forgot to hit the stop button on their watch.

For North Americans, LetsRun has a schedule for Eastern time. For Canadians, I imagine that the CBC coverage is better than whichever American network has it, at least it used to be the case. In Korea, thanks to the largesse of state-owned broadcasters, we will probably be able to watch pretty much everything live.

I'm also a fan of watching heats, boring as they are, not for the reason that it's a rare chance to watch running on TV, but because I think it's instructive to watch someone run very fast and yet hold something back. So much bad running and so many depressing results come from trying to give a hundred percent all the time on every run, every workout and every race.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

CBC coverage is pretty good:

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summersports/story/2011/04/21/spf-track-and-field-schedule.html