World XC: Walter Schafer Daily Blog

Walter Schafer, Cherry Creek CO, finished 44th in the Junior Men's race, finishing 3rd overall on the US team.  The USA Junior Men finished 8th overall in the team competition.   


All Photos by: © Mike Scott 2010.

March 22 - The day of traveling there is always pretty exciting for me and today was no different.  I was excited to go to Europe and to start a wonderful trip.  My flight left Denver late in the day so I was able to go to school on Monday and then get in a 9-miler before leaving for the airport.  The first leg of my travel was a monster; I flew direct from Denver to Frankfurt.  At DIA I met up with out two trainers, Jody and Andrea, as well as some runners: Andrew Kimpel, Laura Tremblay, Ben Bruce, and Renee Metivier Baillie.  We all boarded the plane excited for the week that lay ahead!


March 23 - Getting off the Denver to Frankfurt flight we weren’t all quite as energetic as we were back in Denver.  We met up with a bunch of other runners in Frankfurt.  Ammar Moussa, Trevor Dunbar, and Amy Hastings were all there waiting for us so we could go on a run.  The six hour layover, although very long and boring, did end up being pretty nice because we got a run in and could shake out before getting on the plane again.  Our last flight was from Frankfurt to Gdansk.  I got the pleasure of sitting next to Renee for that flight, she is very entertaining and did a great job keeping me awake.  After the flight we had a 2 hour bus ride to the hotel and I wasn’t lucky enough to be sitting next to someone to keep me awake so I cracked and fell asleep.  Thankfully it didn’t keep me awake and I feel asleep right away once we got to the hotel around 9.  Once at the hotel we got assigned our roommates and I got the one and only Trevor Dunbar.  It was a lot of fun to get to room with him and get to know him.


March 24 - Today was my first day in the town of Bydgoszcz.  It was a neat little town and all of the people there seemed to be very friendly.  Trevor, Ammar, and I all went for a run that afternoon along the river and it was amazing!  There was also this really cool sculpture of a tight roping man balancing over the river that has an uncanny resemblance to the senior man Ben Bruce, so it gave us all a good chuckle every time we passed it.  Later today all of the juniors got together and went to the mall that was just down the street from our hotel.  It was a really cool mall and apparently we looked a lot like tourists because the whole time we were there everyone was staring at us.  They were very friendly though, and one girl came up to me and asked me if I was from Miami.  When I replied no she didn’t really know what to say because she didn’t speak English very well so she just walked away.  It was a great first day in Bydgoszcz and it was fun to get to know everyone on the team.


March 25 - Today Trevor and I became known as the team bums because we slept for about twelve and a half hours and missed breakfast.  We needed the sleep though.  We settled with lunch for breakfast and then got on with our day.  We boarded the bus at three to go to the track to get in our last tune up workout in.  The track that we went to was awesome.  It was inside a huge stadium and pretty soft which is nice for training.  My workout didn’t go very well.  I was running quarters and I struggled through them about 3 or 4 seconds slower that I normally do them.  This had me a little bit worried but I just told myself it was from the traveling and I tried not to think about it going into the race.  Later, all of the juniors watched Harry Potter in one of the girl’s rooms.  It was a lot of fun but pretty crowded.  Fitting 12 people into a European hotel room in a way that they can all see a lap top screen is not an easy task.


March 26 - Trevor and I made breakfast this morning which was awesome because they had this really delicious chocolate cereal that I was craving since I missed it the previous morning.  At three, Trevor, Mike, and I boarded the bus to go to the course and check it out.  The course was still under construction but it was pretty well mapped out and we got it for the most part.  After jogging the lap once we headed off into the park to do some exploring.  We found some awesome trails through the woods we were all saying how awesome it would be to train there.  One trail that we decided to take was very interesting, it was infested with frogs.  It was crazy you would take a step and 10 frogs would jump out of the way.  Most were pretty small but there were some fairly large ones.  We were all yelling and laughing so hard, it was a pretty fun experience.  My oldest brother Bucky showed up during dinner and I haven’t seen him in months since he is doing a semester abroad so that was fun for both of us.  That night all the juniors got together again, but this time for a gender against gender battle.  We used the website sporcle.  It is a website full of quizzes for just about anything that you could imagine.  In the end, us boys came out victorious and headed off to bed very proud of our accomplishment.  To give the girls credit though, they were down a couple of people.


March 27 -
Trevor and I were starting a streak now.  It was the second day in a row that we made breakfast so I had a feeling it was going to be a good day, and a good day it was.  It was raining and that was the exact thing I had been wishing for all week.  I personally love running in muddy conditions and I figured it might slow the Kenyans down a little.  It didn’t but I still loved racing in the bad conditions.  All of the junior guys put on our rain gear and went to get in a run along the river that morning.  We went an easy 40 minutes and then capped it off with some striders.  Later that afternoon the whole team took the bus out to the course for a final walk through.  The whole course was finally set up and the walk through was very helpful.  We mapped out the best routes through the muck and decided that hurdling the logs was probably the way to go.  After getting super wet and muddy we all headed back to the hotel, showered up and took our appetites down to the pre-race dinner.  After dinner my mom, uncle, and aunt showed up to give me good luck wishes.  Trevor and I hit the hay pretty early that night because we had to wake up early for a shake out and breakfast before the race.


March 28 - Finally the day I had been waiting for since nationals!  The junior guys did a quick shake out and then went straight to breakfast so we would have time to digest the food.  We arrived at the course about 2 hours before the start of our race and got into our game time mode.  It seemed like just seconds and then I was on the line getting ready to race.  The starting line was intense, the Kenyan and Ethiopian teams were practically in a fist fight and everyone was shoving each other.  That didn’t change much after the gun went off.  This was easily the most physical race I have ever been in.  I tried not to get sucked into the fast pace off the line and started off pretty far back.  The whole race I was gaining places but I feel that I left a little too much in the tank.  Overall though I am very happy with my placing for my first international race.  The night after the race started off slow with a very disappointing banquet.  It was very unorganized and there wasn’t nearly enough food.  After that though, all of the juniors went out to a café and got in some good bonding.  Since the bus was leaving the hotel at three in the morning we all decided that we were going to pull an all nighter so we could sleep on the plane.  After the café we met up with the senior team and some staff members and hung out with them for the rest of the night.  It was a great night for bonding and I will never forget this great experience!  I feel very blessed and fortunate that I was able to participate in such an event and I hope that I will be able to make another US team down the road!