Winging my way back on what is the last of the flight legs to Los Angeles, I’m somewhere between consciousness and delirium.
I slept a bit in a transit hotel in Kunming, the smell of cigarettes permeating the sheets and a chill in the room thanks to the staff’s efforts to air the place out via open windows. But it was a fast turnaround to get back to the airport to catch my early morning flight to Shanghai for this last connection.
I’ve tried dozing but it’s that pretzeled restless sleep. I did luck out… there’s no one next me… nor to the guy seated on the other end of the aisle.
But he decided he was entitled to three of our four-seat row and is sacked out, his head weirdly close to my arm. I want to tell him the last time I was in this kind of situation, my then girlfriend was flying with me and he doesn’t look anything like her.
The Bagan Temple Marathon trip is quickly coming to a close. I received a notification that the pay-to-display photos are available for purchase online. I scrolled through them and there’s a couple of maybe decent ones of me… I’m hemming and hawing over the 60 euro plus price though. Amongst the stock shots are images of balloons rising over the temples… this is the definition of stock. I found out from folks who went up in the balloons on Sunday that apparently during the day of the race there was such a backlog of aircraft at the Bagan airport due to recent rains that the planes got preference for airspace… meaning for the first time this season the balloons didn’t fly. I thought the air was devoid of dirigibles, albeit assuredly NOT devoid of hot air! Hey-yo!
Still, it was a bummer not to get that experience. I try not to penalize a race or race organization for the weather – that remains beyond the control of anyone not named Storm or Sir August De Wynter. But I do take some umbrage at the stock pics showing the balloons, implying we had them on race day.
I’ve now run four of the five Albatros Adventure Marathons. And Bagan is my least favorite. That’s not to say it’s not a good race; it is. I’m glad I went, I met some great runners, Albatros did their usual bang-up job despite a few glaring hiccups on logistics for the two big dinners. But maybe I’ve done a few too may Southeast Asia races latterly; or just exotic travel marathons in general. Whatever the reason, I found the race to be good, not “oh my god! This is an incredible thing and I would totally do this again!” And for the record, that’s what I’d say about the horserace for their number one event – it’s a dead heat (heat being the operative word) for the Petra Marathon and the Big Five Marathon. The Great Wall Marathon is next on the list with its biggest drawback being after the marathon there’s a 5 hour-ish bus ride back to Beijing. That’s tough on this old man’s body and soul.
As for the fifth event they currently offer – well, hell. I’m sure at some stage I’ll give it a go… but it’s just so darn chilly. It’s a Polar Circle Marathon up in Greenland. I’d love to do it but I need to gear up for it. Literally gear up – the cold and wind is far beyond what I needed for Antarctica. And the trip, while novel, is limited to 80 or so people, with no guides needed as basically you fly in, acclimate a bit, run, and fly out. I’m not sure there’s much in the way of sightseeing… it may just be a bunch of frozen wastelands. But that is something to see… and like all of Albatros Marathons, offers a decidedly unique element to their event.
Oh, and before I go and piece together the tour index page for this adventure, I thought I might close out with the highlight video Albatros showed at the Celebration Dinner. Inexplicably I think I’m in there three times… four if we assume I’m just out of frame for falling to the ground in another shot. But this is a placeholder notation — Albatros hasn’t uploaded it to YouTube yet but when they do, I’ll put it
Updated 12/1/2017 — Here’s the video:
As the sun sets on this runcation, I prepare for the next. Recovery continues, training is in effect, and the start line awaits.
Until we run again….