Thursday, August 1, 2013

World Games!



Wednesday morning we woke up in the 3rd tallest building in Colombia, and headed downstairs to a breakfast of fresh pineapple, scrambled eggs, and a colorful rice and meat dish. Sam and I are in Cali, Colombia to race in the 2013 World Games, where orienteering is one of the included events as a "Trend Sport." This puts us in the same category as Sport Climbing, Ultimate Frisbee, Fin Swimming, and Life Saving among others. The World Games is an event put on by the International Olympic Committee, and it is organized like an Olympic Games except all the sports are ones that for various reasons do not fit into the regular Olympics.

This picture of Cali comes from a 3D map of Colombia that we found in a park.



Our journey to get here started in the fall of 2012, when we learned that the US would be getting positions for the orienteering at the World Games. This is the first time that the US was awarded a spot and it is a reflection on the increasing strength of our national squad. Sam and I were selected along with teammates Eric Bone and Alison Crocker to represent the US. However, less figuratively, our journey to get here started on Monday morning when Sam and I headed to the airport from our home in Uppsala, Sweden where we started the 38 hour journey to Cali, via London, Boston, and Miami.

We only recognized one orienteer on our flight from Miami to Cali, but there were some squash players and two coaches from the bowling team that were there as well. And once we got off the plane in Cali, there was a whole separate line for World Games athletes to get through customs and a several buses full of athletes going to get their accreditation and then to check into their hotels. As soon as we navigated successfully through that whole process we were definitely ready for bed.
As I mentioned above, our Wednesday started with breakfast where we caught up with Eric Bone who arrived after we had already gone to bed. By lunchtime we had met up with Alison Crocker too, and the team was complete. We asked some of the other teams which had already been out to explore the best place to go running from the hotel, and so after lunch we set out along the river for a short run to stretch our legs. There is a lot of traffic and the streets are crowded with buses, taxis, cars, mopeds, people pulling carts, and of course people selling Angry Birds themed twister games. We were safely up on sidewalk, and very glad that we didn’t need to drive a rental car at all during this trip.

The area along the river had a lot of narrow but beautifully arranged parks and there were lots of bridges that crossed back and forth across the thin trickle of water at the bottom of the river bed. The highlights of the scenery were probably the sculpture garden full of painted ceramic cats and the Colombian cultural fair that we stumbled upon. Some pictures from the run are shown below.

Sam is shorter than the bamboo. Also, this is not the bamboo that we have been warned about that has long sharp thorns.


Crossing the river on one of the many bridges.
Brightly painted cats.

Ali and Sam make a short loop through an open shady park while Eric and I stop to take pictures.



No day at the World Games would be complete without some sports, and our evening activity captured this spirit of the games perfectly. After our dinner in the canteen tent, we headed to a nearby arena to watch Korfball. We saw the last half of a game between the Netherlands and Portugal, and even after all that time we hadn’t really figured out the rules yet. Teams are made up of 4 men and 4 women and the team scores when the ball goes through a hoop that hangs up in the air, much like a basketball hoop without a backboard.

It was getting late after the game was over, and instead of watching the next match we got a taxi home and headed to bed, mindful of getting enough rest before our model event on Thursday. All of the races will be held on sprint standard ISSOM maps and so we’re excited to see what that will look like.