That’s what cross country day is, after all – right? A few impressions following my course walk yesterday, before the first horse sets out on this virgin track in 50 or so minutes:
It’s long. Not too long, but at 5700 metres with two short but very steep climbs (and almost equally tiring descents), I found myself feeling healthy respect by the time I walked to the last fence yesterday.
It’s not super technical. This has come to be the norm at the Olympics, with the argument being that you want to test the best but not kill the rest. I think they might have underestimated the weak end of the field though. If the dressage was any indication, even countries like Japan have been training like champions for these Games. I wouldn’t dare be so arrogant as to put in writing that I think this is less than a four star track. I have never jumped a course anything like a four star, so who am I to judge? But I do predict that today is going to be all about the time.
It’s gorgeous. Of course it is. Like everything I’ve seen and touched here in London over the past four days, these are Games that were engineered to succeed and to leave everyone with the impression that London really knows how to put on the Greatest Show on Earth with style and a smile. The only snag is that all those historic trees that dot Greenwich (you know, the ones that the locals were up in arms about when Greenwich was first announced as the equestrian venue) make the course not very spectator-friendly. Believe it or not, the best place to watch the cross country here is probably right here in the media centre parked in front of a cc TV. Between the terrain and the trees you can’t see more than a couple of obstacles from any one spot, and boy is it going to be crowded out there. The course snakes around and around on this postage stamp of a park, resulting in the greatest number of spectator crossings I have ever seen on a course. I don’t doubt the crowd control efforts will be more than sufficient, but this won’t be a good day for agoraphobes.
Now I must be off, but I’ll be back at the end of the day with a recap of the action. In the meantime, I would like to invite you to see my new approach to London blogging, which has just gone live over on my other blog, Low-Down.