RIGA May 2011
The flight from Liverpool was an early one and we left home about 3.30am to pick up Dave and Phil.
Parked up at the airport and met Gary J and Joe Mc in the terminal. Like wise Steven Leslie and his parents John and Sue. For this trip we had all opted to take the same flights out and back making it a very friendly break.
The flight was just over 2 hours and we landed in a very warm and sunny city. The weather was to stay like that until we left our hotels to set off back home.
We all jumped in the same taxi at the airport and off to our 4 different hotels. About five miles from the airport and about 3 Lats each. The currency worked out about 1 Latvian Lat = £1.40. Big tips in taxis and restaurants were not expected. Eating out was a joy and better value than in the UK. We ate together for our evening meals. For two courses with wine and beer for the nine of us coming in at just over £100.
Gary and Joe took the tram at one stage and Joe was penalised for not validating his ticket correctly which was a bit harsh. Thankfully he was not arrested and lived to fight another day!!!
We made our way to the expo soon after our arrival in Latvia. A great walk from our hotels across the city through the parks and gardens and across the canal. There was some lovely architecture in this former Soviet city. The people were very friendly, courteous and helpful. The streets were clean and English was spoken everywhere. Many languages were spoken on the streets but Latvian and Russian were the two we heard the most.
We made the best of the great weather, enjoying the opportunity to eat outside and drink in the local bars and cafes. Beer and coffee were inexpensive. One of the highlights of our tour was a train ride to the beach at Jurmala on the Sunday before our return. The resort had a flavour of Key West, Florida.
Gary and Joe could not resist the temptation to paddle in the Baltic Sea while Dave was happy to lie on the sand in the warm Spring sunshine.
The expo was on the small side but worth a visit. There we picked our bib numbers and chips which were the latest technology with the chip integrated into the number. Great.
Dave managed to move his entry from the half to the 10K. The event tshirts we had ordered were Adidas shirt with a striking Riga design. There were ice creams given out to visitors along with maps of the courses which we studied.
The race got off on time.
There had been no sign the evening before of barriers going up and we started to wonder if we had the right weekend!!
I ran with Gary, Steve and Joe for the first 5 miles at which point Gary and Steve started to push ahead. Their pace was too fast for me. I had been following in Gary’s footsteps tipping drinking water over my head at every drinking station. The weather was too hot. I passed Phil at about 9 or 10 miles. I stopped at the last drinking station and the girl fumbled with the water and cups so I lost at least 45 seconds. Without knowing, Joe swept past me at this point and I was unable to catch him before the finishing line.
We stayed to cheer home the marathon runners including Steven running his first marathon. Well done Steve!
Steve said later he had found it a tough race but we were all proud of him running sun 3:50 in the heat.
The 10K and 5K races started 3 hours later than the marathon and at the finish there were marathon runners, 10K runners and 5K runners all crossing the line together. Spectators round the course were sparse. Towards the finish there were more of them but they didn’t give the runners, many of whom were suffering by this point, the encouragement they deserved.
Dave hobbled over the line with a calf injury but apart from that had enjoyed the race and his breathing seemed easier this time round.