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Yale Track and Field Trip Abroad 2019

The Yale track and field team is traveling abroad for its meet with Harvard against the combined Oxford-Cambridge teams in England on June 29. Members of the team will submit blog entries throughout the trip.

June 29-Vincent Vaughns

Vincent Vaughns

My day began with the startling blare of my alarm clock. Usually, I’d hit the snooze button at least a couple of times, but today was different. Today was race day. I slumbered out of bed and threw on my Beats headphones. I selected my competition playlist entitled “Hype Music” and I began to get ready for the day. The previous night, I dreamed that I had a great start in the 100m dash, so I figured it was only fate telling me today could be big. I finally made it into the dining hall to eat breakfast. My plate consisted of three eggs, three sausages, two croissants and a cup of apple juice. After a quick breakfast and conversation with Alex Young about our undefeated Transatlantic Tour 4 by 1 team, I went back to my room to grab my backpack and head to the track. It was time for me to “Rep the Y.” Well technically H and Y but anyways....

Though I have competed in many track meets, this one felt different. Seeing the British flags and hearing their national anthem really put everything into perspective. We were here to participate in the oldest intercollegiate competition that predates the modern day olympics. This was our chance to make history.

As the day progressed, I began to see the grit Harvard and Yale brought to the table. One race that really stood out to me was seeing Allen Siegler win the mile with an impressive kick on the back stretch. Allen is a guy who is able to make it happen regardless of the circumstances. He even had his bag with all his clothes lost on the way to Cambridge and he still found a way to stay positive, have a great time, and contribute points to the team.

We would go on to win many more events and eventually the meet as well with a score of 16 to 4. This was made up many outstanding performances such as Sam Welsh winning the hammer throw and discus, as well as HY taking both the 4 by 100m and 4 by 400m relays in a dominant fashion. 

Following the meet, we got to hear about all the amazing supporters and competitors who made this all possible. Names like Mark Young, Thomas Blodgett, Gabby Thomas, and Alexander Young. Without these people, HYOC 2019 would not have been as amazing as it was.

When I was told the post meet banquet was going to be nice, that was an understatement. It was held in Trinity College (founded 1546) with walls wrapped with gold framed pictures of ancient rulers such as Henry VIII. The one tradition that threw me off in such a classy setting was that of racing to eat your dessert without using your hands as quickly as possible. Though I was involved in three wins earlier today, I figured I’d let the British have that one. 

The banquet lasted late into the night as I made experiences with people that I will remember long after track is over. Seeing everyone in their college embroidered blazers all eat, talk, and dance the night away truly was a special moment. I would like to end this by saying we are all extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to attend one of these institutions. Regardless of background, race, or creed, we all came together to participate in this amazing event. Now as I lay in bed at 3am writing this awaiting my 5am departure, my heart is filled with happiness, fatigue, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. 

June 28-Austin Laut

Austin Laut

June 28th, 2019. Today marks the second to last day before the ever so hyped meet of Harvard-Yale vs. Oxford-Cambridge. We all woke up to realize breakfast in the dining hall, and rather all the meals here, have a much shorter time frame for eating than what we’ve seen in our respective colleges in the United States. So just like any other college student, we walked in with a few minutes to spare. Nevertheless, we were able to get served with what turned out to be a rather impressive English breakfast. Cambridge dining has yet to let us down... for now. After this, the team met to head over to the track for our final pre-meet before the match (English terminology for “meets”).

Upon arrival at the track, the coaches had us meet for another thrilling meeting this time led by the one and only, Coach Saretsky (Harvard Head Coach). Despite the impromptu javelin practices for our sprinters and dance recordings to Old Town Road by the Harvard athletes, practice went as expected. For our seniors, myself included, this marked the last practice of our track and field careers. While sad, we all continued to prep for tomorrow - the final competition of the series and the final competition for the Yale and Harvard seniors (except Gabby Thomas of course).

After practice, we headed over to Fitzwilliam College for a quick lunch. The Oxford athletes had begun to arrive and were eager to trade kits (gear). Oxford’s gear is more of a deep blue color while Cambridge’s gear is more of a mint green color. Unbeknownst to us, you aren’t allowed to take your shirt off outside while in the college. So we were quick to get a message from Cambridge administration telling us this after much trying on of clothes outside.

Fitzwilliam college is about a 15 minute walk from downtown Cambridge, where most of the astonishing Cambridge architecture is found. First stop: The Cam.

Cambridge was named after the river that it was built around called the Cam. Weirdly enough both words are not pronounced the same. Regardless, we had the opportunity to go punting, an activity in which you get to ride boats and steer by pushing off the ground with long, pole vault-like poles (ironic because I am a vaulter myself). While we had the option to go on a guided tour led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide who could tell us the rich history of the area, we chose to do it ourselves. 

Now you may ask yourself: “Is getting into a boat with a bunch of late teens and early 20-year-olds really a smart idea?” Of course not. But we did it anyways! After loading up, we went out onto the European water. For some of us it was a nice experience to be on the water. For others... not so much. Jack Dunn, one of Yale’s star throwers, had multiple dips in the crisp and clean (not really) Cam - just not on purpose.

Regardless, we all journeyed over to get some gelato at either Jacks Gelato and Aromi after. Following that, we made a quick pit stop to the Varsity Hotel rooftop for the spectacular views overlooking the tall Cambridge colleges and buildings.

Now we are headed back to watch Free Solo and rest prior to tomorrow's HYOC match.

 

June 27-Kayley DeLay

Another one of our early morning travel days began with sad goodbyes with our hosts from Birmingham and reassuring remarks we’d meet again the following year on their trip to America. I know that regardless of whether or not we will see them again next spring, we will keep in touch on social media. After a quick “kit swap” we loaded our luggage onto the bus and we all prepared for some mediocre (but much needed) sleep during the two hour bus ride. We were off to our last destination - Cambridge. 

I was very excited to see Cambridge but also somewhat dreading our arrival after hearing I was the only one housed miles away from the whole distance group. I know that I will only find myself in good company on this trip, but how was I supposed to live without the only people that are able (and have to) tolerate me? Upon arrival, the group went to the dining hall to eat lunch while I explored our residential college. I reckon our college, Fitzwilliam, is quite lovely (that sounds British yeah?) or maybe it is a bit posh, but I still don’t think I really know what that means. After walking in a few circles, I came across a bench tucked away behind some shrubs that were casting a shadow that were ideal to sit under. I sat quietly for some time listening only to the wind, the birds, and the faint chatter from the bench across the way, and naturally, as I like to do, I day dreamed about what it might like to be a student at Cambridge. As I sat there I thought about how lucky I am to be having these experiences and also how I need to stop trying to do a British accent. 

At some point I finally decided that I needed to get up and go get some food, but I got lost very quickly. The college is nothing short of a beautiful maze lined by meticulously planted gardens and geometric buildings. I even ran into the distance coach from Harvard asking me for directions but I was as helpless as he was. 

Around 2:30 pm we all made our way to the track for afternoon practice. It was a pleasant walk over there, just shy of a mile, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun felt so warm, I just wanted to lay on the track and not move, but eventually I got up and the Yale and Harvard distance women went for an easy run. At first we went along a dirt path that showed us the vast fields that surrounded of the area and then got lost as we made our way towards town. After practice, we all headed back to our respective rooms, where we showered and met for 6 pm dinner in the Fitzwilliam dining hall. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I was thrilled to see there were multiple choices of cake for dessert along with the choice of coffee or tea (or both!) for afterwards. If I wasn’t impressed by Cambridge before, then that might have done it.

After dinner, Sam, Jocelyn, Sevanne, Andrea, and I walked into town to get a better feel for the uni (as they say). We made plans to explore more the following day, but it was too wonderful of an evening to not walk around. Cambridge’s campus seems very spread out and interwoven with the city. I was in awe by the many quaint restaurants and shops we passed and admired all the bikers on the street. We made a quick grocery run to stock up on Cadbury chocolate bars and Digestives cookies and then headed back early since we were all exhausted. My friends had turned down the street to head towards their college, and there were a few minutes that I was walking alone carrying my groceries. I couldn’t help but picture myself as just a local on a typical stroll, but a thought irked me; would I ever get used to them driving on the wrong side of the road? 

 

June 26-Cade Brown

Cade Brown

June 26th, 2019. We are in full swing in Birmingham, and today we have our competition against our hosts in the University.

This has been the quickest stop on our journey, as a three hour flight delay from Dublin to Heathrow threw off our schedule. As I awoke to the sun streaming into the windows, I began my final mental preparations for the race: a process that cannot be completed without breakfast. I ate with my gracious host Shreyas and we talked about how the day was going to go. I was preparing to run the 1500 m, the first time I will have competed in something so short in well over a year. Shreyas and I finished breakfast and went up to get ready with John Lomogda and his host, James. At 12:45, we began our walk to the track.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with some bopping tunes and an announcer ripping dad jokes over the PA system. From then on, we knew the day was going to be great, win or lose.

John and I left for our shakeout run and went along a beautiful canal, where we passed canal boats, bikers, and the occasional fun runner. When we returned to the track, we watched our teammates and hosts duke it out on the track, in the circle, and along the runways.

We picked up Robert Miranda when the time came to warm up and we had a nice run along the canal in the opposite direction from before. The highlight was stumbling across two adorable sleeping ducks at our turnaround point.

When time came to race, Robert ran away with the win, holding off many charging Birmingham athletes with a time around 4 minutes flat. I finished with John around 4:05. The rest is a blur, from cool down to award presentation and a giant Birmingham-HY picture. It was a hard-fought day of competition as Birmingham edged us out for the overall victory.

The banquet ended our day, with uncountable pictures taken, thank-you’s given, and smiles shared. Until the next time, Birmingham!

June 25-Andy Rochon

Andy Rochon

This morning we were given a classic British welcome to Birmingham by Mother Nature. In other words, it absolutely poured. Fortunately, myself and many of my fellow Americans were more than willing to embrace our inner child and splash around on the track for a pre meet workout before our our match the following day. We would later find out that the consequences of getting soaked are dealing with the wet, stinky clothes that never seem to dry no matter how well we hang them up in our flats. Our only hope was to find that elusive dryer that everyone had been whispering about. 

After a much needed shower, our next mission was to get our first proper meal in. Many in the group decided to check out the mall in the city, where I heard stories of a hot sauce challenge, but my solution was simple: I needed to find the nearest pub and order the stereotypical, yet quite delicious fish and chips that everybody and their mother tells you that you need to try when visiting the UK. Luckily, my host knew just the spot to take some Yale lads out to lunch. With the cricket World Cup playing on the pub tele and a battered, fried fish in front of me, it truly was a snapshot of the ideal British experience, even though Britain was getting absolutely smacked about by Australia.

The next item on our agenda for the day was something that was described to me as one of the integral pieces of British culture: Love Island. Imagine the Bachelor but better. I’m sure many will try and disagree with that statement but trust me, reality tv has never been so entertaining.  Following that wondering mid afternoon of cramming around a laptop to watch Yewande get dumped off the show, we decided it was a great time to finally tour campus. Did you know that University of Birmingham has the largest free standing clock tower in the world? Well, now you know that Old Joe stands at 100 meters tall and doesn’t need any silly buildings for support, like its cousin Big Ben over in London. You’re probably asking yourself the same question I am: what’s with all these two word, six letter names for clock towers? Some day soon science will provide us with an answer to that profound riddle but alas, today is not that day. 

The last scheduled item of the day was a lovely barbecue hosted by the Birmingham track team, conveniently located 50 feet from my door and inconveniently located more than a mile away from other peoples’ doors (I guess throwers do get lucky sometimes). Even though the burgers and sausages were cooked individually over hot coals for more than 100 people, we were excited and grateful to have the opportunity to hang out with our new British friends. To end the evening, a group of Yale and Harvard athletes went to the Bristol Pear where we played Banana Grams and Blackjack to our hearts' content.

June 24-Juma Sei

Juma Sei

To be completely honest, I have no idea how I made our 7:00 AM bus this morning. I was up late doing laundry — got into the laundromat before official closing (post-banquet), and I had to sit through a full wash and dry cycle as a result. I fell asleep with my phone off the charger by the time I got to my room, and because it died, my alarms didn’t go off in the morning. Regardless, I made it, and did so on time. We rolled out of Limerick a little past 7:00 AM, and I slept nearly the entire journey.

One unfortunate result of my rushed morning is it didn’t allow me a proper goodbye. Ireland is an odd country in reflection. I was talking to a friend from home about this: the entire landscape is best described as “countryside” — rolling hills, grassy plains etc. It’s an incredibly calming environment, and yet, I wouldn’t use such words to describe anyone I met. Between the accents and vibrant pub culture, the Irish population juxtaposes the country’s natural scenery. Still, it was a beautiful place to visit, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Unnecessary thoughts aside, our stint in the Dublin airport was a mess. It’s not easy traveling with nearly 70 people, and as a result, our time was filled by rushing, waiting and lines. I fell asleep at our gate and luckily didn’t endure the ~3 hour delay.

To follow an emerging theme of this post, I slept the entire flight to London. After collecting our bags in Heathrow, I did the same en route to Oxford. In the few minutes before sleeping however, I was able to take-in some of my surroundings. Aside from the license plates, and left-sided driving, London reminded me of the States more than Ireland did... well, their highways at least.

Though I had no expectations coming to Europe, things are different than I expected (I realize that’s nonsensical, but that’s the best way to describe it). The majority of my traveling has been to East Asia, and infrastructurally, the UK (and Ireland) are a weird amalgam of that and the US. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something formulaic about how they structure things... maybe it’s just me though.

That aside, I woke up to our arrival in Oxford, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d have said it was Yale — makes sense, given the origins of our beloved gothic architecture rest in this British university. The group split in half, and my subsection saw facilities first. We saw the track where the first ever sub-4:00 mile was run and I’d say it was exactly “neat.” There was nothing particularly grand about place — just cool to say that I’ve been.

The rest of campus was beautiful. We walked from the track to a “club” (not sure what that means either), and though we were pressed for time as a result of the flight delay, it was great to see the sights we could.

I’d say Yale is the “try-hard” version of Oxford. Where our building are beautifully ordained with unnecessary imagery, the Oxford architecture was simple and gothic. Their buildings were old (not Yale-old, old old), and carried with them a sort of majesty. Unlike the Yale campus that stands in contrast to the surrounding New Haven, Oxford felt as if it it’s exactly where it’s meant to be: a quaint British town.

I’m sure others will talk about this, but walking around these campuses makes you feel like you’re part of a history greater than yourself. I spoke about this feeling with Myles (a Harvard 800m runner) when walking around Limerick. Coming to old-timey places outside of the States forces you to understand that there’s an immense history beyond our life in America. I’ve been cognizant of this fact my entire life, but the places we’ve been in the past few days put that reality directly in your face. Yale feels like a toddling three year old when compared to grandpa Oxford.

We arrived at St. Vincent’s Club after about 5 min of walking, and while others partook in a light dinner, I scoured the walls (analyzing the club’s membership photos through the years). It was nice to see how their membership had evolved with time. One of the Oxford athletes (second year Ph.D candidate in neuroscience — a high jumper who toured the track with us) mentioned that “Vinny’s” only allowed women members a few years ago. Part of me didn’t believe her, but the pictures spoke for themselves. Only in the most recent years did I see people of color, women and colored pants in these photographs.

Not long after entering St. Vincent’s, we made our way back to the buses and off to Birmingham. As you may guess, I slept on that bus ride as well. Tré (Harvard hurdler) woke me up when we arrived.

As we climbed off the bus and paired with our hosts, I couldn’t help but notice how picturesque this campus was. The sunset backlit a massive clock tower in the distance, and as I watched the sunlight disappear, I thought to myself (for the millionth time on this trip), “wow, I’m really in here right now.” This trip’s been full of these moments. I’d like to think I’m a well-traveled individual, but there’s something special about traveling in this capacity and taking part in one of the world’s oldest traditions.

Kyle, Andy and I walked about 10 minutes to our hosts’ flat, and after getting settled into each of our rooms, spent the rest of our night getting to know one another. We discussed the nuances between Ireland, England and the United States as they pertain to track, young adult culture and the like. It’s needless to say that I’m looking forward to this leg of the journey.

 

June 23- Elizabeth Adelson

This morning, I woke up to a loud blow horn sounding right outside my window. I wondered if the coaches were playing a prank on all of us to make sure we were all up in time for our first meet but was disappointed when I looked outside my window to see a team of foreign soccer players getting ready for their game. My alarm was supposed to go off just 10 minutes later so I decided to get up and start getting my things ready for the meet. It was already raining outside so I checked the weather app to see that yes, just as it had said when I checked the day before and the day before that, it was 100% chance of rain all day. I met up with some other Yale athletes who were competing in the first couple of events and we embarked on the 20-minute trek across the University of Limerick campus to get breakfast by the track. After ordering egg white omelets and coffee, we sat at a table overlooking the track and were joined by Harvard athletes and more Yale athletes. The camaraderie we had already established with the Harvard athletes in just 4 days of being here made breakfast fun and comfortable as we all talked about what we were competing in and laughed about how rainy it was. 

As a high jumper, I was one of the very first events so I warmed up inside the sports complex and Kendall, Harvard’s high jumper, and I laughed about the absolute latest time we could go outside to our event to avoid the rain. When we got out there, the officials were just starting to move the rolling shed off of the high jump mat and told us we could set up camp under the shed. (which was about 4 feet tall and 12 feet wide). We all crawled under there and hid in the rain as we waited our turn to jump. It was fun to be on the same team as Harvard, and it was a cool experience to have Harvard athletes and the Irish high jumpers cheer me on as my time came to jump. After our event finished, the men’s high jump followed and more Harvard athletes joined us under the shed. Everyone was cheering loudly for the two Yale and Harvard highjumpers, regardless of who was on which team. This cheering continued into the 4x4 relay, which was the most exciting part of the day. Both the men’s and women’s relays had a mix of Harvard and Yale athletes on them, and when the time came, everyone left the dryness of the indoor complex and lined up on the sidelines to cheer on their own teammates and their new teammates. 


We finished off the night with the banquet, where Harvard Yale and University of Limerick students all sat together and listened to the history of the meet and tradition. We ended the night with Ber, our mentor/DJ/event planner of the trip, giving us a special gift. After telling everyone the first night we met him how great the “Taytos” chips were in Ireland, he gave us two bags fully stuffed with smaller bags of Taytos to thank us for coming on the trip. We will miss Ber and all the University of Limerick people who helped make this event happen! 

June 22-Nick Dahl

The day started much earlier than I had meant it to when an uncharacteristically sunny Irish morning welcomed itself as an unwanted guest into my single room, the shades having been fully drawn from the previous night where I had been watching the cows mull around in the fields behind our complex.  Blinking the sleep out of my eyes, I stretched my joints and neck. A cacophony of snaps, crackles, and pops reminded me of the roughly 20 hours of planes, cars, and buses that had preceded this morning’s practice, and, regaining what little limberness I could, I met up with a handful of Yale and Harvard teammates to shuffle across the bridge to practice.

Our Saturday practice was a simple shakeout, meant to wake the energy systems up and get us ready to fire on Sunday for competition. For 35 minutes Allen, Cameron, Cade, Robert, and I jogged the waterfront, accidentally joining a local road race along the way. We spent the morning piecing together stories from the previous night, when we had broken down into a couple of groups and each followed wildly different trajectories. Cameron and mine took us on a tour through Limerick, at various points joining the Polish football team, a band of Irish college students, and eventually our Harvard/Yale teammates before a brisk jaunt home and a full night of sleep. We did our strides, a sort of litmus test to evaluate any aches or pains that our legs may have been harboring and stretched accordingly at the end of practice before showers and lunch from the groceries we got days ago.

Less than an hour later, I found myself glued to the window of a bus filled to the brim with runners, not an empty seat in sight. We were due to arrive to the Cliffs of Moher in just under two hours, and I couldn’t stop myself from watching the villages scream by as our tank of a coach bus narrowly winded its way through country roads and alleyways clearly not meant for a behemoth of our size. More than once I was convinced that our driver had gotten us stuck, and that the only hope for escape was a full-on Titanic-esque scrape of the side, which would have taken with it all the luggage stored underneath. But, with the grace and precision of a contortionist escape artist, our driver squeezed us through whatever gaps there were to be found and we arrived unscathed early in the morning.

It was a zoo right at the parking lot at the Cliffs of Moher. I needed to escape the throng of people, so with a handful of cohorts we journeyed as far in one direction as we could. With drive and intent we hunkered across the cliffs, and bit by bit the traffic thinned as we out-hiked the families and casual tourists, until we were practically alone far away from the epicenter of the human hordes. It was at that moment that I truly looked around for the first time and realized the gravity of where we were. I spent hours on the ride back thinking about how I could describe the cliffs in this journal entry, only to decide that anything short of being there fails to capture their magnitude. The best proxy I could come up with is that feeling you get when you walk out of a narrow tunnel and into a stadium filled to the brim with spectators, but in this case you realize that you’ve been in that tunnel for years and only now do you see the full stadium. Naturally that’s the analogy I come up with as an athlete, but it is honestly that same gut-check feeling of I am smaller than this moment that you get.

The wind whipped across seas of green grass, permanently pasted to the slopes because of the never-ending currents, and the sheer rock splintered out from the countryside, ripping a hole in the earth which ran all the way down to the sea. If you listened carefully enough, you could hear the cries of hundreds of birds, all nosediving the waves in search of sustenance. They made their homes in the little nooks and crannies that interrupted the steep plummet of the cliffs, and the blend of all their calls became a shrill rumble instead of individual noises. Somewhere on the breeze a peddler was playing the Irish flute, and his notes completed the entire moment for me. It seemed as though whatever created this countryside was painting with a palette of greens we simply don’t get stateside, with shades tinted by dusty greys and mulchy browns. I won’t soon forget what we got to see today at the Cliffs of Moher.

 

June 21-Samantha Friborg

Samantha Friborg

Our first full day here! The day started with practice at 10:00 am. Despite people still definitely feeling the jet lag and exhaustion of the day before, everyone miraculously made it on time. We all broke into our training groups after a fun get to know you game for a light workout to get the legs moving, after running back to the dorms to wake up a soundly sleeping Jocelyn, who had slept right through her alarms. In typical Jocelyn fashion, she jumped right up and was running within minutes of opening her eyes. We all loved it. Practice was followed by lunch at the UL Sports Club and a Yale women’s distance trip to the nearest grocery store. Less of a grocery store and more of a gas station convenience store, we somehow managed to find some good food to supplement breakfast and lunches the next few days. Grocery stores are a surprisingly good place to get a feel for the area’s culture- we all had fun looking at the different brands of ice cream, candy, cereal, bread, etc.  

After quick showers, the five of us Yale distance women caught the bus into Limerick for an afternoon of exploring. We walked along the Shannon River up to King John’s castle and across a few bridges and found ourselves at a quaint coffee shop overlooking the river and rolling green hills in the distance. Although we were not particularly hungry, after seeing the various pies, cakes, coffee, and other treats, we all settled on some sort of afternoon snack (can personally recommend the carrot cake, accompanied by the best whipped cream I’ve ever had) or coffee. We wandered the streets of Limerick a while longer, popping into a book store, taking pictures, and exploring a high-end department store. With lack of phone service or WiFi, we had some difficulty finding the bus back to campus but with the help of a kind stranger, we found it, boarding a double decker bus to get back. 

That night we had a full HY barbecue at the Stables Club on campus. Burgers, music, and dancing led by a leprechaun-esque and very friendly man named Ber, a long time supporter of the Yale-Harvard England exchange. Our throws coach, Duke, as well as Coach Gutridge got roped into learning an Irish dance and a group of us even got Shoe dancing for a few moments! After some more mingling and dancing with the Harvard team and Ber’s mix of throwback and recent jams, including Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and Sheck Wes’s Mo Bamba, the Yale-Harvard conglomerate made their way back to the dorms where the entire distance portion of HY played an energetic game of mafia. We made our way back to the bus to begin a “proper Irish night” in Limerick as termed by Harvard runner Myles Marshall, that included an Irish dance as taught to us by some locals, a group sing-a-long to Shallow from A Star is Born, and a few missing room keys. 

Although it’s only been a few days, it’s been fun to watch and be a part of the growing cohesion between two teams with such a historic rivalry and who battle so fiercely during the year. I can only assume that the new friendships and camaraderie between both groups only continue as the days pass (all too quickly). Our stay in Limerick is certainly setting us up for a magical week ahead!

 

June 20-Cameron Wyman

Cameron Wyman

Crossing gorgeous blue hues of the ocean, then green meadows and classic brick and stone suburban neighborhoods before coming in for a smooth landing after an almost seven-hour flight, we at long last had made it to the great country of Ireland.  Unfortunately for me, I was unluckily exiled to a middle seat where uncomfortableness set in very quickly for the long flight. Sitting between Vincent Vaughns and Alex Young, much of the flight was Vince and I laughing (silently crying to ourselves) at how we couldn’t get just comfortable enough to fall asleep while Alex has been passed out for the past 5 hours. Jealousy aside, it was safe to say that sleep never fell over me. After thoroughly enjoying a classic, “The Lego Movie: Part 2”, I found the game section in the home screen. Many hours of virtual poker later with eyes stinging from exhaustion, over the loud speaker, the flight attendant says we’ll be landing in 20 minutes.

Touchdown finally and we’re on Irish soil. One long line for immigration and a slick passport stamp later, we gathered our bags and headed for a quick snack in the airport. This is when we first met our new “frenemies.” Harvard’s team filtered onto the bus after us, being late and keeping us in a boiling bus for an extra hour. Typical.

In all honesty, I flatlined on the bus ride to the University of Limerick for all but the last 20 minutes, but from what I was told by my teammates, the countryside was very lovely with plenty of dairy farms located on the lush, rolling hills. I awoke to find many members of both Harvard and Yale laughing and talking together in deep conversation. It was easy to tell that many of them were starting to build lifelong bonds as friends.

After arriving at the beautiful University of Limerick and having our first full team meeting, we walked to the reception building to get our keys for our rooms. After getting his key, Jack Dunn looks down, looks back up, thinks for a second, then yells “Crap, I forgot the (century old, extremely important, and priceless HYOC) trophy next to the bus!” and bolts away. (One job Jack, one job). Fortunately for everyone, he recovered the historic trophy minutes later. No harm, no foul.

At practice at the new University of Limerick track, all team members introduced each other before separating into our respective event groups. For our post-travel easy run, us distance runners ran along the River Shannon that travels right through the university, passing an old bridge and exploring the remains of a castle just 10 minutes from the university. Seriously, this stuff just doesn’t casually happen in the United States. We ran as far as we could until the leading members of the pack started shouting from pain as they had just run through dozens of yards of stinging nettles and were already forming large welts all over their legs. We decided right then that this was a good place to flip and head back. By the time we reached the track, both Yale and Harvard had divided within each other into teams and were playing a very intense game of “Capture the Flag”. Now let me tell you, there may never be a game of “Capture the Flag” so intense and with such athleticism ever played again as many of these athletes are nationally competitive and professional athletes would be too scared of injury to play, but no, not us. People were sliding, falling, and willing to give their lives for this very casual game that started 20 minutes prior.

Post practice, many of the athletes went to the local restaurant and pub for food and a place to cheer on the Women’s US national soccer team in the World Cup. It was clear that everyone was finally hitting the wall after many long hours to travel to get here. After an easy victory by the US team, many of us were ready to call it a night in order to prepare for practice the next morning and for our trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

 

June 19-Phil Zuccaro

Phil Zuccaro

Woke up, took a deep breath of that sweet sweet New Haven air, and rolled out of bed. I was already on my 500th push-up before my roommate Ekrem woke up. We all stayed in the Marriott for our one night on campus before embarking to the UK this evening. 

Once our laces were tied and we were ready to roll, I grabbed the classic bacon egg and cheese sandwich from Gheav. Quick fist bump for the guy playing guitar on Broadway and we’re on our way to practice. 

It was a pretty standard practice today, the main focus was just tuning up our bodies before the upcoming three competitions in quick succession. It was weird being back in the Cage with such a small group, but after some time away it felt great to be back. At the end of practice captain Kyle Macauley broke our facility record for the scooter 200m.

After practice we grabbed lunch and then headed back to the rooms to shower and get ready. Our team uniform for travel consists of a navy Yale blazer with a white shirt and tie for the men and scarves for the women. 

Our checkout was at 2 but the bus didn’t depart until 3, so Addison Coy and a few others headed over to Tropical Smoothie to kill some time. While she was waiting for her Island Green special, a guy approached her asking if she were on the debate team.

Addison: *confused at first* *looks down and sees she’s wearing a Yale blazer with a scarf and khakis* ... “Yeah I guess I am.”

Throughout all of yesterday and today, Coach Shoe told us approximately 1000 times not to forget our passports anywhere. Because of this, as our bus departed the hotel on the first step of our grand journey across the ocean, the coaches must have been feeling pretty good about our preparedness. They have the utmost confidence in this squad. But still, coach Gutridge just had to ask one last time. 

“Everyone has their passports right?” .... *Silence for a few seconds* ... Allen Siegler: “S***!” 

So we whipped the bus back around and Allen ran back to the track house to grab his forgotten passport. To his credit, Allen definitely smashed his 1500m PR in a full suit and tie- he was there and back in like 3 minutes flat. Also probably a PR of apologies per minute too because he was pretty rapid fire with the “I’m so sorry guys.”

So we restarted our grand journey across the ocean, first bussing to JFK Airport in NYC to catch a late night flight. A big part of the history regarding our meet with Oxford-Cambridge lies within the two trophies awarded to the winning team. Part of our responsibility as the reigning champs is to bring those trophies back overseas for the next competition: meaning that two people have to lug those things around for the whole trip until our final day at the HYOC meet. In true form, Jack Dunn and I were selected to be the trophy mules (I hate being a freshman). 

As we made our way through the airport people looked at us like “Wow that’s one athletic looking debate team.” Everyone got through security without a problem and we all made our way towards the food court to get some pre-flight meals. Advice: never eat a philly cheesesteak in front of Nick Dahl unless it was handmade at Jim’s Steakhouse in Philadelphia. That guy feels very passionate about his cheesesteaks and apparently the ones from JFK Airport are an insult to cheesesteaks everywhere (mine was pretty good though but don’t tell Nick I said that).

The flight boarded on time and went by pretty smoothly for the most part. Now time to catch some Zs before we reach Dublin!

 

June 18-Andrea Masterson

Andrea Masterson

Andrea Masterson

Today was an exciting day for Yale Track and Field as it marked the start of the 125th Anniversary Harvard Yale/Oxford Cambridge Tour. As the 28 athletes competing for Yale converged on campus, we could feel the anticipation of the days to come. As a recently graduated senior, it felt a bit strange to be back on campus spending time with the team--this time with no looming papers to write, midterms to take, or assignments to hand in. It was refreshing to be back on campus for sure, but dare I say it was a little dull? I hate to admit that there’s something to be missed in the camaraderie of the nights spent with my teammates in Sterling Library, but now that Yale has no more expectations for me, am I really *missing* the cold, uninhabitable crypt that is the library? No, it must be the post-long run team brunches around the round table in Morse, and sitting on cross campus into the twilight hours on the first day of cross country preseason, not the high-octane, stressful environment in which we somehow manage to thrive and make ourselves at home. I am unconvinced but decide I am just going to tell myself this so I don’t have a full-blown who-am-I-now-that-I’ve-graduated-college identity crisis just yet (That comes after the trip!).

Despite the rainy day in New Haven, the mini-reunions that happened as members of the HYOC team began to trickle in to the Courtyard Marriott to drop their bags off before practice were warm and enthusiastic. You can tell that a team likes each other a lot when they act as if it’s been an entire year since they last saw one another even though it’s only been a month. Once we were settled in our rooms, we prepared for a soggy practice. Just like old times (for me at least), the 3:00 bus whisked us away to Smilow Field Center. I pretended I was still a Yale student. It felt good to be back inside the familiar walls of Coxe Cage, with the coaches waiting for us. We gathered by the high jump pit for a team meeting, where Shoe made it clear just how special the trip we are about to embark on will be. Embrace the history and spirit of the tour in all its fanfare and tradition, he encouraged, and told us to put aside rivalry in exchange for friendship and camaraderie with Harvard. As Shoe spoke the true privilege of being able to take part in this historic trip began to sink in, as did the absolute blast it is will undoubtedly be. Go with the flow and enjoy every second were his final pieces of advice. Excitement levels were so high that we were ready to board our flight then and there.

After we finished going over the logistics of the trip, our new uniforms were unveiled. The singlets and long sleeves emblazoned with the HY are a dream; the formless, “Kevlar” Y blazers not so much. Once the gear was distributed and we picked up old gear to trade with our international hosts, the mid-d/distance girls headed out into the June drizzle to catch up and log some miles. I’ll sign off here, as I head back to the hotel to pack and wait with anticipation for tomorrow’s journey across the pond.

Thanks,

Andrea