Monday, September 1, 2008

The Nike Carnival and Street Party

Nike threw a *HUGE* party for my birthday. Wasn't that nice of them!

13,000 people were invited to run a 10K ... and numerous more came to dance, sing and cheer us on from the sidelines.

Technically this *was* a race. The top runners sprinted through all 10K in about half an hour! Trailing the serious runners by half an hour to an hour were tourists like myself. I as ran as hard as I could and arrived at the finish line red in the face and sweaty - but I also stopped to take pictures along the way, waved to the old folks in their lawn chairs and gave high fives to the kids as we passed by. The whole event had the vibe of a local carnival or neighbourhood street party and I enjoyed every minute of it!

The adventure started on the way to the Coliseum! L.A. traffic is always an adventure - but when you add in the road closures for the race and 13,000 runners, friends, family and spectators trying to find parking -- the traffic chaos was off the charts. It took me an excruciating two hours to crawl the few miles from where I was staying to the parking at USC

Roads in Downtown L.A. blocked off for the Race

The stress of traffic congestion disappeared the instant I arrived. The whole place was alive. The lawn of the Coliseum was a sea of excited people in their Red 'Just Do It' t-shirts. It was fun to see the families participating in the race together. I ran much of the race with a Mom and her 8 and 10 year old kids and a father with his young baby in a carrier on his back!

The race was staggered in waves. Everyone lined up based on their average time per mile. The serious runners were up front - tourists like myself were back in a later wave. The race course, from start to finish, was lined with folks cheering us on. In one particularly rough neighbourhood - the sidewalk was crammed with smiling parents in lawn chairs and little kids jumping around with excitement trying to get a high five from the runners as they passed.

Folks At A Bus Stop Cheering Us On

All along the race route there were performances of music and dance from the various race cities. There was everything from Mariachi Bands from Mexico, Chinese Lion heads dancing, Brazilian drums and L.A. kids bustin' a move to hip hop tunes. Add to the performances the neat architecture and a cool old church - and there was a steady stream of amazing sites and sounds to enjoy.

Shanghai Dancers

Local Kids Breakin'

I was so busy taking it in I forgot that it was a hot and humid evening and that I had been running for almost an hour. I slowed down for a moment to catch my breathe at the 7.5KM mark and a friendly volunteer jumped out and offered to take my picture.

Only 2.5KM Left To Go!

At the finish line we rec'd a finisher's bracelet and lots of free granola, yogurt and berries to celebrate our success..

You would think that everyone would be tired out after the run - but the atmosphere at the finish line was electric. Kanye had a very enthusiastic crowd and he rocked the house with more than an hour of hits - Touch The Sky, Homecoming, Champion, Stronger. It was fun to watch the runners jumping up in down to the music with their cups of granola in their hands!

Kanye On Stage

Closing Fireworks

My photos and video from the run are here on Flickr.

No comments: