When I arrived at 8:30 this morning heading for the Media Village, I noticed that there were already people in the bleacher seats at the water obstacle (#2). Perhaps this doesn’t seem strange to you, but the marathon didn’t start until 10 and the first drivers wouldn’t get to the hazards until about 11! After getting a second cup of coffee and a bagel, I gathered my gear and headed out to take a final look at the hazards. I decided to hang out at 4,5,6,7 because they were fairly close together. 1 and 8 were a hike away, and 1 was going to hard to photograph. 2 was the first water hazard and I figured it would be mobbed with spectators as well as other photographers. 3 was very pretty but way too shady for good pictures.
What really blew me away was when the first driver got to my section of the marathon. All of a sudden there were thousands of spectators! I started out at number 6 – the Squirrel Grove. There were only a few dozen people standing around and then after the first competitor finished number 4, all of a sudden hundreds of people headed toward the Squirrel Grove and 5, the Stone Garden. For the rest of the morning, there were thousands of spectators. Sometime in the afternoon, I noticed the crowd diminish. I think it might have been because the non-driving spectators headed off for the Vaulting finals, and/or to Keeneland because they started today.
Announcer Geoff Morgan did a fantastic job educating the non-driving folks about what they were watching.
With so few entries, 10 minutes was scheduled between competitors, so that meant that there was plenty of time to move to another hazard without running and getting heat stroke. It was another cloudless day, and it got hot in the afternoon. My one complaint might be that there were no food or drink concessions in the obstacle areas.
The only blemish to an otherwise great day – no accidents – no other incidents that I am aware of – was that sometime during the night someone slashed up the grooms seats on the marathon carriage of Ijsbrand Chardon. It was not discovered until his grooms went to get it to get ready for the marathon. There is a complete police force in place at WEG and they had a detective on the scene immediately to investigate, but it did throw things into a tizzy for a while. Eventually it was determined by the Ground Jury with the approval of all the chefs d’equipes, that Chardon’s starting time could be delayed until the end so that he could assure himself that his carriage was safe to drive (there was some concern about sabotage to the brakes).
You can see the complete results at http://www.drivingnews.us Regardless, Chardon won the marathon, Sweden’s Tomas Eriksson was second, and Boyd Exell of Australia was third. Chester Weber had two grooms down in different hazards, and so did Jim Fairclough. Tucker Johnson had a very good marathon and finished 7th.
Team-wise, the US is still in silver medal standing, with little chance of moving up, but they are 11 points ahead of bronze medal standing Sweden. Tomorrow the battle for the individual gold will be between Exell and Chardon.
I took over 1000 photos today and wish I had the time and space to share more.