Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Late Olympics

The scheduling of the events of these games is heavily dependent on television broadcast schedules - not that that is anything new. Rio is 4 hrs ahead of Pacific time, 1 crucial hour ahead of Eastern, 3 hours behind GMT, and 5 hours behind Amsterdam. The Eastern time difference makes the 'packaging' of the events much easier for NBC and played a substantial role in their decision not to broadcast the evening events live.


There are 11 track and field finals before noon, six of them in the stadium (2 marathons and 3 walks are on the roads). Thus we were treated to the somewhat odd spectacle of watching the men's steeplechase final starting 10 minutes before noon and finishing just in time for lunch. With essentially a noon start here, you'll get the steeplechase live in Amsterdam at the end of the workday.

How many times have the greatest steeplers in the world contested a championship before noon?

Having finals in the morning puts fans in the position of making tough choices. When Brazil was riveted by the men's pole vault on Monday, I was watching in my hotel room and had fallen asleep before it finished well after 11:00. I had already been to the stadium and back for the morning session on a brutally hot day when Anita Wlodarczyk set the world record in the hammer and Ruth Jebet just missed a WR in the steeplechase.

It's easily a two-hour round trip with more time required to get into the stadium, and as much as I had wanted to return for the evening session, it did not help that it was pouring by the time I had to decide whether or not to return. Fans got back to our hotel around 1:00 am. The first rounds of the women's 5,000m started 8 1/2 hours later, at 9:30am.

Track and Field News (I'm on their tour) was on top of this as they offered a modest discount for those who did not wish to attend morning sessions. I chose the morning sessions even though I knew I would not attend each one. What I saw Monday morning with the hammer and the steeplechase (near WR) was well worth all six morning tickets.

I am extraordinarily lucky to have been in the house for all three world records so far.

We are counting our blessings... a number of event sites are a two-hour trip - each way - from downtown Rio.

A tech note: what's a good seat in the stadium? One close to the action with no connectivity or one in the rafters where connecting (via phone) is a piece of cake? This morning I was in an end zone for the men's steeple but could not send a tweet of silver medalist Evan Jager's victory lap.

It's worse if you want to connect your laptop to stadium wifi - it cannot be done without a full media credential. So I can write there all I want - I just can't send it or post it to my website while I'm in the stadium. I have to leave to do so. As hotspots are not common here, it really means that my hotel is usually the best option.

A quick note to my family... I have a special surprise for you tonight and hope I can tweet it out of the stadium. A hint is to be found in tonight's finals.

Gotta jet.. soccer is getting out of Maracana Stadium right now, and that stadium lies between my hotel and Estadio Olimpico!



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