After Oringen I packed my bags and headed to the train station for the long trip down to Colombia,going from one of the safest places in the world to one of the least safe!
I arrived in Bogota in the evening darkness which was a novelty after a month with no night and just as extreme as the difference in latitude from the Artic circle to the equator, was the culture shock. It wasn’t all that bad though with the extra police and very helpful world games people about.
I had a long wait in the airport for Georgia and Rachel to turn up and then we caught a flight over the mountains to Cali. From the airport we were collected, corralled and then waited, and waited and waited for a bus to accreditation, eventually we got transport, then there was some more waiting for the bus to take us to our accommodation. More waiting… during the afternoon it was time for a bit of exploration and a short jog around the place. We found a really good pizza place for dinner. The language barrier was a bit of a hurdle taking 3 waiters, a chef , 3 young children plus a helpful English speaker sitting next to us to figure out what we were after. We spent our first night in an interesting hostel near by then moved into the official accommodation the next day.
First we were too early to check in, then we needed to do some more waiting, and then because of one row in an excel spreadsheet misaligned everyone’s rooms were completely mixed up so the rest of the afternoon was spent waiting to figure this out…4 and a half hours of waiting later it still wasn’t fixed and finally our 5:30pm bus arrived to take us to dinner about 2 hours behind schedule…
Eventually the ride to the dinning hall was very prompt with our police escort stopping traffic and waving us through multiple red lights which ensured we were there quickly.The dinning hall is just like they say at the Olympics, with freaks of every kind there, short gigantic power lifers, tall lean ultimate frisby players, very interesting trying to work out who does what kind of sport.
Tuesday night just happened to be athletes party night so the buses from the dinning hall were heading to the plaza for the party. So what better way to deliver athletes to the party than to put them all in a open top double deaker bus, some crazy Colombian salsa music and yet another a police escort! It was nuts! The streets were narrow the power lines were very close to the top of the bus and the driver was going fast. The reception at the party was just as crazy with hundreds of people surrounding the fences all waiting to catch a glimpse of us athletes, wanting to touch us, have our photos taken etc. Fairly unusual for most orienteers (maybe not Thierry?) anyway…
Wednesday Chris arrived making our team complete. The afternoon we were able to go and watch some of the Trampolining and Men’s group balance which in itself was an experience. With limited time and bus schedules to contend with we decided to fit a run in the best way was to run to the catering tent which is about 5km away. Well it started out alright, it was quite fun and we felt quite safe, but slowly as we started to run straighter the less police we saw the streets were a bit more crowded, a little less tidy and felt a bit rougher. We had a number of people offering us help, then advising us not to go in the direction we were heading. Eventually is was clear that we were in a pretty dodgy area… more and more surprised people, more people whistling, taking our photos, yelling out “gringo”, taxis pulling up offering us a ride, taxis following us, people telling us this was a “no go” area for us, offers of drugs etc… We were starting to get a little worried and just made sure we kept moving and continued to keep the people startled.
Eventually we got out on to a more main road which were were looking for and it became less apparently dodgy. As it turns out we got a bit lost in the chaos, and the location of the dinning hall wasn’t quite correctly marked. We had too options to either head left or right at the next intersection, then a guy appeared from behind us, wanted to shake hands then he stopped a whole bunch of motorbikes at one intersection pointed in the direction we wanted to go and stopped another whole lane of traffic for us. It was crazy they were all willing to look after us and help us out. I guess we pretty much brought the World Games to a little part of the world that they would never expect to see us which while on one hand was a bit scary for us and could have turned out fairly pear shaped was quite exciting and a privilege for those guys!
Once back on the main road to the stadium we arrived at an intersection which was chaos, the police had stopped cars in all directions and we could hear a police helicopter not far away. We wondered if they might be looking for us or something. After negotiating the intersection it was very evident something was happening. We were asked to keep back from the edge of the stadium at one point by a policeman carrying a machine gun so we thought it was a good idea to listen to him. A bit closer to the catering tent was a riot van, and the place was crawling with Police. It was a bit of a relief to make it back to the safety of the Catering compound. Later we found out that the President was due to arrive at the next door stadium which was what all the heightened security was about.
So today was a bit more laid back, sticking to the safer places around town. We traveled out to the model event, checked out the terrain, got a few ideas on how to go about it and have spent the day waiting around in good old Colombian style for tomorrow when the racing will start. The Information on the races is below! Can’t wait, should be flat, fast and heaps of fun!
The World Games can be followed online (results, tracking, TV) on this page:http://wg2013.orienteering.org/ and there will be a live chat on the IOF website:http://orienteering.org/the-world-games-chat/
Sprint: 2 Aug Women 10am Men 11am COT
(NZST: Sat 3 Aug 3am-5:30am)
Middle: 3 Aug W9:30am M11:30am COT
(NZST: Sun 4 Aug W2:30am, M4:30am – 7am)
Relay: 4 Aug mass start 10am COT
(NZST: Mon 5 Aug 3am onwards)
The New Zealand team competing at the World Games in Cali, Colombia is Tane Cambridge (PP), Chris Forne (PP), Rachel Smith (BP), Georgia Whitla (PP) (Manager: Rachel Smith)
Start Lists, Competitor details, and official results will be at:http://worldgames2013.sportresult.com/NH/en/300/Comp/DetailedScheduleByDate?sportCode=OR&expandAll=False