Florida Training Camp

I have reached the halfway point in my 4 week Florida Training Camp. I'm pictured above (and below) in my lighthousesque boat with my "Partner in Pain" Anders Gustafsson of the Kayak Team of Sweden, full photo credits go to Bernie "sure, that's a food!" Irvin, our indispensible and irreplaceable (we wouldn't want to even if we could) massage therapist and nutritional advisor. So two weeks kind of zipped past, but I'm pretty sure I got some good training in somewhere. I have my Cervelo here, so I've been pelotoning it up a few times a week with the canoe guys. (Ahem, yeah I put that link to Cervelo up there because I'm a sponsored cyclist, like super fast and everything, seriously) Also did some good 2k's with the Norways (5x2km, average 8:09 with a turn, 8min recovery), who have sadly packed up their heart rate monitors and Viking Caps to make the trek back to icy Oslo. I wanted to put a link to Eirik's site, and Alex's site up on this post, in hopes that they'd do the same for me... so that is the only purpose of this last sentence. We tried to host the 2nd not-so-annual International Beach Day last weekend. It was for the mutual enjoyment of the all the different nationalities that all train here, and to do something about how we unfortunately communicate almost exclusively with head nods and mipronounced "Guten Tags!". Despite plenty of enthusiasm from at least 5 different countries (Canada, Portugal, Norway, Germany, and um... Quebec) there was a crazy red tide that forced us off the beach with towels over our mouths coughing and gasping for breath. Brutal... IBD #3 is postponed until February.

I'm staying in Florida until Dec. 19th, which is later than most... I took my time getting here though, with all these trips to Africa and the beautiful western Canada (big shout out to Calgary & Burnaby CC's). So most of my teammates and training partners will be long gone by the 19th. I'm hoping zee Germans, who are staying until the 20th or something will be cool with me joining up with them for a few sessions of Deutschestyle-kayak training.

Lastly, and not about kayaking... if you need some really good music to listen to, check Kings of Leon (to rock your socks a la Nashville), and Kevin Drew (to chill the heck out after that insane Kings of Leon air guitar session).



Last weekend in Ottawa the Canadian Olympic Committee brought about 80 Canadian summer sport Athletes to Ottawa for the 2007 Olympic Excellence Series. The guest speakers were awesome, and we got to take part in a big announcement about a new program from the COC.

But at dinner that night, the kung-fu ninjas arrived. They showed off all their ninja talents, and to top it all off, the head master ninja put a concrete slab on his chest and told me to smash it with a sledgehammer. I did as I was told, for as experience has taught me... when a ninja tells you to do something, you'd better do it.

The head master ninja's ninja-talents were impressive. He endured a sledgehammer blow to the stomach from one of the best lumberjacks Oakville Ontario has ever produced. His inner strength and focus was inspiration to all the Olympians in attendance.


XC Ski - Witness the Fitness 2007

Among the uber-awesome athletes in attendance at the Calgary GMP was the particularly rad Chandra Crawford, Canadian XC skier and 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist. There was some snow up in Canmore so I joined her for a quick (short, not fast) ski on friday afternoon! How sweet is that?! (footnote: it was very sweet) The action shots proved far too technical for us jocks, so here we are posing... but kind of more like figure skaters. The mountains are amazing, what a backyard... I'm Super Jealous!! The folks out West just don't know how great they've got it... actually they probably do, they're just sweet enough not to rub it in too much with us boring eastern Canadian flatlanders. Thanks for the ski Chandra, and good luck!!



24h after returning home on a marathon flight from Liberia, I set off for Van City for GMP stop #3. The food was scrumptous as always... I was paired with Lee Parsons of Bacchus Restaurant, and I helped plate some delicious salmon with a menagerie of fried beets, cauliflower stuff and halibut puree. Simon Whitfield spoke on stage and I was inspired once again by his genuine story and gracious attention to the amount of generosity in the room that night. The next morning I had the opportunity to visit Burnaby Canoe Club for a paddle with 11 awesome BC paddlers... thanks for the workout guys!

That same day I was off to Calgary for my 4th and final Gold Medal Plate event. I had the pleasure of sitting with my one of sponsors, Petrobank as they generously purchased a table at the event. The GMP events this year were all awesome fun, and raised a ton of dough for the COC Excellence Fund. Thanks to everyone at Gold Medal Plates, all the chefs, and everyone who attended the events across the country for your support of Canadian Amateur Sports.



Over the past three days we've seen and done more than a few paragraphs can possibly describe. We visited schools and playgrounds in the villages of Westpoint, Chicken Soup Factory, Claratown, and Kakata among others. The day trips provided us an opportunity to really interact with the kids, be with them in their environments, and play the specially designed RTP games and activities with them. The educational activities aim to provide health lessons, teach solutions for conflict resolution, develop life skills and be really fun and engaging for a large group. The games are really similar to ones Canadian kids might remember playing; "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes", and singing kindergarten songs about washing your hands were fundamental aspects of our development, and incorporating those games into the lives of children in the most disadvantaged places on Earth improves and saves lives. In only 8 months, 20 000 Liberian children have gone through the RTP program, their laughter and enthusiasm has been so inspiring for us to witness.

Last night on our way back from the field we passed a dirt soccer pitch, next to a garbage pit. We pulled over and within minutes a full game of pickup was on. Yellow RTP shirts vs. locals! They played barefoot or in flipflop sandals, on the broken glass and sharp stones... still beating us 2-1. We even had Kei Kamara, a professional footballer on our team... needless to say he was usually triple teamed.

We fly home tomorrow night, enlightened and exhausted. I speak for the whole team when I say this has been a life changing experience. Pictured above in yellow from left to right, Mo Farah (GBR), myself, and Chiel Warners (NED) amidst local RTP coaches, coach trainers and happy Liberian children.