Upcoming events –

Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Sunday, September 24, 2000

Sydney, Olympic Village - Chess Champs

Today's Olympic Village Headline: U.S. Racewalker battles Australian Chess Master and says, "Check, mate!"

Who says that the Olympics are just about flexing your muscles? In order to be the best athlete in the world, you need to exercise your mind as often as your body. In an effort to prove that athleticism and intellect do mix, I took the Olympic Chess Challenge.

While two of the world's chess grandmasters battled it out in two short-play chess games in the Olympic Amphitheater, I tried my best to outwit Australia's youngest chess master. Since he is only 14 years old and has a much younger and nimbler mind than my own, I decided he needed some kind of handicap. The way the tournament was set up, he had to play me and 19 other athletes and officials at the same time. After choosing his opening move against me, he proceeded to make 19 other opening moves and return to my board to answer my first move.

There were a few tense moments when I had him on the defensive. I did get to say, "Check, mate!" to him a couple times, but he got up a pawn late in the game and was able to outlast me for the win. I was happy to be one of the last players standing, though. All those games of chess for the Lincoln High School Chess Club finally paid off.

It was a big media event for the Australian chess community, so I may even be featured in their monthly newsletter or the local newspaper. Photos were taken; interviews were given. It was all very exciting. I think I made reference to the mental concentration it takes to walk for four hours in a 50 kilometer event, comparing that type of cerebral task to the rigors of a chess match. I'm sure they were impressed.

This morning's workout was much less taxing than the chess match, just an easy 10 kilometers at just under 8 minute per mile pace. It's nice to feel very comfortable and smooth now that I am cutting back on the mileage. Over the next few days, I will continue to do some short workouts and rest up a good bit.

I rested most of the afternoon and then went into downtown Sydney tonight for the first time. Wow! There is a ferry that shuttles athletes from near the Village directly to an area called The Rocks in the heart of Sydney.

In order to get there, we passed directly beneath the famous Sydney landmark, the Harbor Bridge. Mounted in bright lights across the entire span of the bridge are the five Olympic rings. It's an awesome sight, especially cruising slowly underneath with the glow of the city lights all around. And then, as soon as you pass underneath the bridge, boom, there is the Opera House lit up in blue, then gold, then red, and white and a mosaic of colors. I've seen so many photos and so much TV footage of the bridge and Opera House that I expected to be disappointed when I saw the real thing. Nope. It was really amazing.

Many of the swimmers and athletes in other sports that have already finished were drifting into the downtown area to celebrate and enjoy the post-competition aspects of the Olympics. They may or may not be back to the Village later tonight. Many of them were with family and friends who had made the trip over from the U.S. to see them compete.

It's gotten late and I need to get on my pre-race schedule: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a walker fast, faster and fastest!"

Cheers, mates!


No comments: