This week in 1988 was one of the most exciting times of my running career. It started off with the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Auckland. I don’t remember much about our team’s activities in Auckland (jet-lagged as I was), but I know from my Training Log that I was happy with both my individual placing and our women’s team result. The only detail about the race that I remember is that it was unusually hot. After spending the winter in cool, rainy Brussels (whose climate is very similar to Vancouver’s), I wasn’t acclimated to Auckland’s heat.
You can look at the Auckland results below. One key thing to note in the results is that Canada’s women beat the Kenyan team! I’ve only shown the first page of the team results, but there were 26 women’s teams participating that year; Ethiopia was not one of them. This was before African women achieved the world dominance in distance running that African men had already demonstrated. The reasons were cultural; there were talented African women running, but most of them were young teenagers, often running without shoes, who quit running to get married and have children before they were close to reaching their athletic potential.
I’ve written in other posts about how you never know when you’re doing something for the last time. Well, 1988 was my seventh and last time participating in the World Cross Country Championships. The injury problems that would prevent me from ever again being as good a runner as I was in 1988 are already being described in this Training Log.
I’m glad my cross country running at this level ended on a high note. My international running career had begun ten years earlier, in 1978, when I made my first Canadian team to run at the World Cross Country Championships in Glasgow. That year, I placed 38th; respectable but not nearly as good as my last showing in Auckland!
After the cross country meet, it was time to start getting excited about the next race on my schedule. Only eight days later, I planned to run in what was being billed as “the world’s richest race.” It would be held in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. It wasn’t strictly true that this race offered more prize money than any other road race. The distance was 10K; my favourite; but many marathons offered more money than this race on the island of Bali. However, the prize money was more generous than any other road race shorter than the marathon distance. In addition, the race was offering a one million dollar bonus to the top male or female finisher who broke the previous “world best” time. The course was promised to be flat and fast, so theoretically the records could be broken: but heat would be a tough adversary in this tropical location.
This race was sponsored by a very wealthy Indonesian businessman, Bob Hasan, who was also chairman of the country’s athletic association. (You can read some very interesting stories about Bob Hasan if you google his name; however, I won’t comment about him more in this post.) He cannily scheduled the race for one week after the Auckland cross country meet, figuring he could attract several world-class athletes to stop by in Bali on their way back to Europe or North America. He succeeded in doing this. He not only enticed us with the promise of a large prize purse; he also treated us to a level of luxury that I, for one, have never experienced before or since. Any athlete with top running credentials who wanted to participate was flown into Bali in business class.
I travelled to Bali via Sydney. The Bali race organizers paid for my hotel stay in Sydney. I enjoyed my three days there—Sydney was ideal for both training and sight-seeing.
In Bali, I stayed at a 5-star resort in Nusa Dua, where I shared a room with American Nan Doak-Davis. All our luxury meals there were complimentary—we could order whatever we wanted from the menus. At the resort, we could sun on the beach or beside the pool. We were given opportunities to go on tours of the countryside during the days prior to the race.
Ironically, being offered a vacation in a totally foreign culture and climate with a limitless choice of food and drink presented athletes with the possibility of making mistakes in their preparation for the race. I’ll be writing about the Bali 10K in detail next week, and you’ll understand what I mean!
Olympic Training Log
March 26, 1988
AM: World X-C Champs. Came 19th—very pleased, worked hard, dead last 400m. 19:57 for 6,000m. Kristiansen 19:04, Tooby 19:23, Sergent 19:29, Jennings 19:38. Team 5th—3 points behind USA. 8 miles counting warmup, warmdown. Both left heel and right Achilles very bad.
March 27, 1988
AM: Over 2 hrs easy biking in Auckland. Injuries much better after aspirin treatment.
March 28, 1988
AM: Ran about 1 hr in beautiful Sydney parks. Good pace but dying last 20 min because of heat. Injuries not bad during run but heel became very sore later. 9 miles.
PM: Weights at Sydney club. Did about 1 hr, variety of exercises 3–4 sets each.
March 29, 1988
AM: Ran to Botanical Gardens (23 min). Did 10x ˜ 600m on grass with 30 sec rest between. Ran back to hotel (15 min). About 9½ miles. Heel very sore but warmed up fine.
March 30, 1988
AM: 24-min continuous swim in hotel pool.
PM: Weights on Universal, situps, pushups. 65 min—sweating like a pig! Heel improved today. Achilles still quite sore.
March 31, 1988
AM: Ran 43 min at fairly good pace—working hard because of heat. Heel more sore today—took a while to warm up. 6 miles.
PM: Ran 35 min—felt very tired and heat affected me—legs almost collapsing. 5 miles. Heel very sore.
April 1, 1988
AM: Ran 4 miles easy with Nan [Doak-Davis]—felt OK but Achilles very sore after. Followed by 31 min weights.
This week: 41½ miles running, 1 bike workout, 2½ weight workouts, 1 short swim.