Aug. 19, 2009
Former Husky nine-time All-American Ryan Brown earned a spot on Team USA this summer and is currently in Berlin, Germany for his first ever World Championships appearance. Brown will compete in the 800-meters beginning Thursday. He graciously agreed to document his trip for GoHuskies.com. Below is the first installment.
Hello from Berlin! I arrived a few days ago and just now feel like I've caught up to the swing of things. I guess the easiest thing to do would be to recap some of the highlights of the trip so far.
I arrived Saturday morning after leaving Seattle on Friday morning. Losing a day just sitting on an airplane is something I'll never get used to. After gathering my bags I was met in the airport by Beatrice, who introduced herself as the attaché for the US team. I don't know exactly what that means but it sounds fancy, and just being met at the airport by someone makes you feel pretty important. Beatrice took me to the team hotel, a huge, 4-winged complex complete with hangar-sized conference room and a dining area the length of a football field. I think they said it's the biggest conference center in Europe. It is large.
After going through the credential process, I just settled in and watched the meet on TV, which they have streaming 24/7 in the hotel. Even when there's nothing going on, they repeat the day's competitions again. In the dining room it's even being shown on a 30-foot movie screen. Speaking of the dining room, it's buffet style for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm not sure exactly what the style of food is, but everything is edible and I haven't had to leave anything on the plate. It's big enough for even the pickiest eaters to find something. They have really good pancakes that rival that of McDonalds, which are my favorite.
Enough of the boring stuff. Sunday I was finally all settled in so I ventured to the practice track, which despite being a random track in the middle of one of Berlin's many residential districts, is one of the nicer tracks I've ever seen. Complete with beer garden and mini soccer field. The infield has some of the best kept grass you'll ever see. It's just the right size, I wish I could pack it up and drop it right there on Montlake.
Anyway, this was all just getting my obligations out of the way so that I could finally check out the stadium and go be a fan. The 100-meter final was Sunday night.
When driving up to the Olympic Stadium, the first thing you notice is how old it looks. It has the same facade that it has in those pictures from the 1936 Olympics that we've probably all seen. Inside, is a whole different story. The only word I could use to describe not only the building, but the atmosphere as well, is Beautiful. I've never been to a track meet like this. I liken it to the glitz and panache that comes along with an NFL game or MLB game. Packed stands, enthusiastic fans and an overall energy that even puts Eugene to shame. This is where track is the big time.
Just watching the events was exciting, but one thing about the German fans, they love their German athletes. Whenever a German athlete is about to do or is doing anything, the place goes nuts. It's like somebody scored a touchdown every five minutes. It's incredible. It just so happened that within a few minutes German women got second in both the Heptathlon and shot put. The fans were going crazy and you could feel the energy in the stadium. While those two women were doing their victory lap, the final event of the evening, the men's 100 finals walked onto the track. The anticipation was through the roof.
Everyone probably knows the result of that race so I won't go into detail about it but it was exciting. Usain Bolt is something to see. I've been to my fair share of track meets, but being in the house for Usain Bolt's 9.58 is one that I'll brag about to my grandchildren. It's just so cool to actually be able to say that I attended something that the whole world had a stake in.
Monday I decided to go on a little excursion. I'm sponsored by Asics and earlier this month received an invitation to visit their hospitality area here in Berlin. It was somewhere across the city from where I'm staying so I had to take the subway. They have two main systems here, the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn. S is an above ground system whereas U stands for, underground of course!
I got to ride both and ended up in Kurfürstendamm (I copied and pasted that) which turned out to be awesome! It was a big shopping street that reminded me a lot of Robson Street in Vancouver. But the coolest part was the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church that was in the middle of the avenue. It's about 100 years old, but the spire is half gone due to bombing it World War II. I never fully thought about the effect that war had on this country until then.
After standing in awe of the church and the power of war for a minute, I made my way to the Asics hospitality. Luckily I had arrived just in time for lunch with the Italian contingent. Asics is the primary sponsor of the Italian Olympic Committee, so they share headquarters at big events like this. The cool part about that is that Italians are particular about what they eat so they fly in cuisine from Italy. They explained that each region has a different day and it's all good. I must say, it was fabulous. I don't know exactly what it was, but it would've cost about $36 in Seattle. That was another nice surprise.
Later my coach arrived. It was then that I was reminded that I'm here to compete. I had a workout to do, so we went to the practice track accompanied by Coach Sullivan from Penn State. She's nice. I ran on a nice trail near the track, but on my way back I missed my turn and got a little lost. Luckily I have an impeccable sense of direction and found my way back without going too far.
Our plan was to head to the main stadium from the practice track through some yet to be determined combination of buses and trains and walking. But as I got ready to leave, Coach Metcalf said we had a ride to the train station. Nice, because I didn't want to walk or catch a bus. I had already gotten lost once and wasn't in the mood again. So thanks to a nice guy who just happened to be hanging around at the trackside pub, we piled in on our way to the U station. As we got going, Coach says to me, "He's gonna take us all the way there." Lo and behold, we pulled up to the U station and the guy says, "I want to show you my town! I'll take you there!" It was awesome. His name was Michael, thanks Michael.
There we watched more track action, including three American men making the final in the 1500, Jenny Berringer dropping the American record in the women's steeplechase (a time which Coach Metcalf called hours before), and the coolest 10K I've ever witnessed.
I'm excited for what's to come in the next few days as I compete for the first time on Thursday.