I thought it would be fun to reflect back on the last 7 years of my career and make a top 10 list. I don't think I have seen a list like this so far from anyone else...but then again I don't read any blogs or look for things like this, so maybe that explains it? However, I have met more people in the last week who have said that they have been entertained with my last few blog entry's and they have thanked me for "keeping it real" and saying what so many people have wanted to say for so long... So, why not run with it for now.
I have been blessed beyond belief to have traveled all over the world throwing a stick, and below is a list of my top 10 favorite meets. My criteria for ranking these meets is compiled on the following criteria:
1) ease of travel, location of the airport from the meet (hotel ect.) and transportation to and from the airport to the hotel and to the competition.
2) accommodation... the quality of the hotel, the food, the rooms, view, A/C ect...
3) the meeting itself... the quality of the track, the crowd, the money (if any) and the local organizing.
*** It may have been a few years since I have been to some of these meets and some of the meet directors could have changed as well as hotels ect, but I'm going to give you my fill... the lowdown...no filter...and I'm going to call people by name, so this could get fun! So lets take a quick ride down memory lane!
Here is a list of my Top 10 Favorite Meetings:
#1 Stockholm DN Galan (Stockholm, Sweden)
Every thing about this meet is amazing. From the time you arrive at the airport to the time you check into the hotel (you get your own rooms! :) everything is extremely easy and flawless. The Hotel is awesome, great food, great people. The Swede's are a very knowledgeable track crowd and the meet is run to perfection, no wonder it is now a Diamond League Meeting. Hands down, my favorite meet of all time! Well done Rajne!
#2 Athina Tsiklitiria (Athens, Greece)
I don't think this meet is running anymore, and thats a shame. The Athens GP was my 2nd favorite meet. I mean, come on, its Athens...the Olympic Stadium...the history, just an amazing meet. My buddy Georges was the meet director when I was there and he went out of the way to make everyone as comfortable as possible and he was a pleasure to be around, generous is an understatement! The hotel was amazing, right across the street from the Acropolis, the food was awesome, just an amazing meet over all. The only down side of that meet was that sometimes you didn't get paid (so I heard) and there was almost no one in the stands... But after getting to visit Athens for free, Ill take that trade.
#3 Huelva Meeting Iberoamericano de Atletismo (Huelva, Spain)
My 1st time to hit the Olympic "A" standard was in Huelva back in 2007. Even if I hadn't have thrown well there, it would still rank among my favorites. We stayed at a 5-Star beach resort! On the water! The food was top notch and the crowd was amazing, packed to capacity. The Local Organizing Committee even made nice little to-go breakfast and lunch bags for the people who had to leave early in the morning...nice touch!
#4 Rovereto Palio Città della Quercia (Rovereto, Italy)
Speaking of food and wine...hands down the best food and wine on the circuit! Rovereto is one of the most beautiful and amazing places I have ever been...The hotels are quaint bed and breakfasts, the stadium is brand new mondo, and your basically hanging out in the most beautiful part of Italy. The drive from any airport, be it Milan or Venice is amazing! Little villages with coffee shops and the most beautiful lakes you have ever seen...oh yeah you are at the base of the Swiss Alps! Great meet!
#5 Daegu Colorful Athletics Meeting (Daegu, Korea)
Not sure if they will have a meet after this years World Championships? But I hope they do. As most Asian meets, the people make it worth the trip. I am always amazed at how polite the Asian culture is, and Daegu is no exception. The hotel is HUGE and the rooms have COLD AC! the stadium is of course top notch and the crowd is excited and packed. They dont really have a clue as to what they are watching, but the seem to be happy to just be there! They hold a nice banquet the night before the meet and a raging party afterwards...all in all a fun place to be!
#6 Kawasaki Super Meet (Kawasaki, Japan)
Again, Asia...amazing people! I had the privilege to see Japan about 2 months after the earthquake and tsunami disasters. It reminded me of the USA post 9-11 and I was proud to see how upbeat and determined the Japanese people where to get things back to normal. Return to the "positive flow" as Koji put it. The meet, awesome as expected, the stadium is perfect and the crowd just the same. Karla, the meet director takes great care of the athletes and is a pleasure to be around!
#7 Pátra Tófalia (Patras, Greece)
Another greek meet, another beautiful city, great stadium. Georges again running the show and doing a great job. Anytime you can get to Greece to compete, you should do it. If not just go for the food, wine and the Mediterranean!
#8 Doha Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix / Diamond League (Doha, Qatar)
The travel to Doha sucks a bit as you can imagine. But the fact that you will probably never go to the Middle East for any other reason kicks this meet into the top 10. The hotel is the best as is the food and pretty much everything else you can think of given the economic state of Qatar. I even saw gold plated floors in the mall...overkill. The stadium is small but they usually have a good wind but no one in the stands. But still, its Qatar...why not.
#9 Roma Golden Gala (Rome, Italy)
What else do I need to say, its Rome...its Italy...wine, coffee, sun, the Colosseum...Its like competing in a museum! About the only bad thing I can think of about the Rome meet is the traffic to and from the stadium. Gigi puts on a great meet and I hope I get the chance to go back one more time.
#10 Melbourne Telstra A Series (Melbourne, Australia)
Aussi Aussi Aussi ... what a fun city, of course the travel sucks if you coming from the states, but if you get the chance to hang out for a month its well worth it. Melbourne is a rocking city and the meet itself is pretty nice. The meet director, Maury Plant is a non stop riot, could be one of the funniest guys on the planet and he looks after the athletes well! He hooked me up with a hell of a hotel and all the perks that came with it, he knows what I'm talking about! ;)
Now for the bottom feeders, and if there happens to be any rookie track guys reading this...trust me, you should steer clear of these meets:
#1 Moscow Open (Moscow, Russia)
No amount of money could get me back to Russia. Everything about this meet was garbage, the travel, the accommodations, the food, the weather, the people... you name it, it sucked. Never again, you cant buy piece of mind!
#2 Zhukovskiy Znamenskiy Memorial (Zhukovsky, Russia)
Again...Russia, enough said, read the previous meet and that should do it. Oh, if you want to take some illegal drugs and get some ridiculous marks, then you should go here, I saw some freaky stuff go down there. F-R-EEEeaky stuff, girls that looked like guys, mustache's and all...no thank you!
#3 Riga Cup 2008 (Riga, Latvia)
Basically the armpit of Europe, the hotel sucked, the meet sucked, the weather, the crowd, the food, all SUCKED! You spent most of the day in your hotel room telling the drug dealers and prostitutes in the hallways to stop knocking on your door. Then you have to deal with Baltic Airlines who likes to break and loose your luggage...Then they act like they don't understand English when you go to file a claim. Hey Latvia, you suck!
#4 Sao Paulo GP CAIXA de Atletismo (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
#5 Belém GP Brasil CAIXA de Atletismo (Belem, Brazil)
Sao Paulo and Belem have pretty much the same problems. The travel, hotel, and food are all down right dangerous. Its hot and there is a water and toilet paper shortage...both of which you need when you are dehydrated and have a case of the mud butt, which is about an 80% chance that you will get that there, just ask anyone who has been.
#6 Villeneuve d'Ascq Meeting Lille Métropole (Lille, France)
What can I say, its France...Do I really need to explain? Maybe its because I cant speak French? Actually, I know a little bit of French ... "I surrender"
#7 Baie Mahault Meeting International Guadeloupe (The middle of the Caribbean)
I have mixed emotions about this one... Your in the Caribbean, which is cool, but it takes forever to get there. Its a 3rd world country, so you have the food and water problem, but most of all, they just dont know how to run a track meet. The Hotel is nice, but its just not on my list to do again. Oh yeah, the speak French there...figures.
#8 Tallinn Meeting (Tallin, Estonia)
Not too much bad to say about this one, just a dull meet, and the meet director Aivar is a jerk. The hotel is lame and so is the food, good luck with the weather, you never know what you are going to get. Only good thing I can say about this meet is that the Estonian people as a group are awesome, very polite and hospitable.
#9 Linz Gugl Meeting (Linz, Austria)
There is a reason this meet isn't around anymore, the meet director Harald Edletzberger is a crook. Hey didn't pay a large number of athletes, including me! Hey Harry you owe me about $1,500! Not only did you not pay me for Linz, but you screwed me on Zagreb as well, maybe thats why you got fired...jerk!
#10 Göteborg Folksam Grand Prix (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Threw here this year, pretty lame meet for the Swedes who have such a deep athletics heritage. Nothing stands out as terrible about this meet, just an overall dull, boring meet with nothing to get excited about. There is almost no money available and chances are you will spend more on food than you will get for winning...sigh
Well, that was fun...looking forward to doing that again soon, or another top 10 list in the future...
Track updates, I won nationals last weekend, finally! I'm in Edmonton, Canada for a meet today, so far this meet has ALOT of work to do or it will be bumping Gothenburg off the number 10 spot! Stay tuned!