Team USA athletes were on the move again Wednesday taking advantage of another chance to preview parts of the longer courses that they’ll race on Saturday in both the 40-kilometer Short Trail Championships and 80-kilometer Long Trail Championships. A handful of the team also ventured out into Chiang Mai for an evening cooking class to learn more about the local cuisine.
The little red truck isn’t just the cool team transport for Team USA, these converted trucks called Songthaew are the most common type of public transport in Chiang Mai. Songthaew, pronounced Song-Tail, literally translates to “two rows” named for the converted bed of the pickup truck that has two long benches.
The Women’s 40-kilometer team along with Leah Yingling and Max King piled into one of the little red trucks on a mission up the mountain to see a new part of the course. Outside of the heat and humidity all the of athletes will experience this weekend one other theme is apparent and on everyone’s mind – the races are going to be steep. “What we saw today was pretty steep on both ascents and descents – a real mix of rooty, rutted trail and dirt road.” said Kimber Mattox – but she was quick to add, “While warm and humid, it’s not nearly as warm [up higher on course] in the trees.”
One thing is clear, the team dynamic is going to bring some extra magic to the racing this weekend. While trail and ultra running is often a solo sport, rewarding the individual, running for a team goal and performance has the tendency to get the very best out of us. In a moment on Tuesday I asked Addie Bracy about this, “It’s been a cool way to spend a lot of time together. Particularly this year when all the disciplines are racing at the same event and we are getting to spend time the teammates within our race as well as the other races. Everyone seems in a good headspace! Calm energy while also recognizing and acknowledging the unique challenges we all having coming up. I think Team USA has a chance to do really well across the board.”
Ahead of Opening Ceremonies and the Parade of Nations on Thursday evening and the Vertical Mountain Running Championships on Friday morning eight members of the team headed out for a cooking class in Chiang Mai. I’ve been told while it was mostly belly laughs and delicious food… if you leave it to a bunch of athletes they can turn anything and everything into a little friendly competition.
News skills to take home? Check. New friends made? Check. While most of us will focus on the results as they start to come spilling in on Friday and through the weekend, I’m hopeful the athletes on the trip take home so much more than that. Truly an experience of a lifetime.
While we don’t have the technology to taste food through images yet, and this website is not a scratch and sniff sticker I’m certain Team USA just leveled up in the kitchen. Check back here soon for images from the final down day before we are off to the races tomorrow!