January 1, 2000 • Phil: Hello travel notebook. Well, I am just about ready for my grand departure to run around the world. I hope that the Planeteers that receive me will take good care of me, they are a good group of kids. One last look at beautiful Florence (Italy) before I go on my first run this weekend with Indro Neri. I hear that he is super slow, so I should be able to get a good look at the city. Wish me luck!
January 23, 2000 - Firenze (Italy) • Indro Neri: It was very fun and an honor to have Phil run with me this weekend. We participated to the local "Trofeo Oltrarno" race in, held on the wonderful hills of Firenze. Phil and I visited Firenze in the days before the race, but the course of this fun run lead us to places far away from the tourist beaten path. Well, nothing like standing in front of the David statue or watching the river Arno slowly pass under the Old Bridge, of course, but I trust Phil really enjoyed the narrow streets and the panoramas of the Tuscan countryside. There were about seven hundred runners at this race, and you could run two, six or fifiteen kilometer. We did the 15k. As a prize they gave oranges to all of the participants. It was a good race, and even more fun with Phil. Here is a photo of Phil and me before the race. Thanks for visiting me Phil, enjoy your travels!
April 1, 2000 - Hawrelak Park, Edmonton (Canada) • Lorne Sundby: Phil and I ran in the "April Fools 5k run" in support of the Salvation Army (I pinned Phil to my chest, alongside my race number). At first I was concerned about what it would look like having a frog pinned to my chest. However, this was a fun run and being April Fools' day, there were a number of costumes which somewhat overshadowed some guy having a frog pinned to him. I'm pleased to report that Phil and I smoked all the runners in wedding dresses, but we came up short finishing 10 seconds behind the guy in the cow suit. The photo I sent along is of Phil and I and my daughter Elizabeth. You may notice in the background that there is snow, including an iced-over lake. That lake will be used for the swimming portion of the ITU World Triathlon Championships, July 21-22, 2001. Check out http://www.triedmonton2001.com/2001tri.html. You might also want to know that Edmonton is the site of the 2001 World Track and Field Championships, August 3-21, 2001, the third largest sporting event in the world, after the Summer Olympics and the soccer World Cup.
April 2, 2000 - Red Willow Trail System, St. Albert (Canada) • Lorne Sundby: St. Albert is where I live, and Phil joined me for a 12-mile long run on Sunday April 2 in the river valley of my city. The hub of the river valley trail system is St. Albert Place (it is here that the "0k" marker is located) and all kilometre markers on 6 branches of the trail count out from this point. About 6k of the trail system is cleared in the winter, but as spring has emerged, there are now 30km of clear, paved trails to choose from - and being a nice day, Phil met a lot of runners along the way. Here is a photo of Phil in front of city hall in St. Albert, just before Phil and I did a the training run together.
April 14, 2000 - Ames (Usa/Iowa) • Phil: I got acquainted with Kevin on an easy jog around the streets of Ames, Iowa, where he is a graduate student. Kevin said my pill box was a lot larger than he expected so on this run we thought about how I would accompany him in the "Boston Marathon".
April 15, 2000 - Boston (Usa/Massachusetts) • Phil: We, (Kevin, his fiance Stephanie, and I) checked into the hostel in Boston. It was completely sold out, full of runners for the marathon. I met runners from all over the United States and other countries, but oddly, I didn't meet any other frogs. I got this feeling I was going to be the only one.
April 17, 2000 - Hopkinton (Usa/Massachusetts) • Phil: The big day! The one Kevin said he's trained for since January and dreamed about for a lot longer. We got up early to get ready, Stephanie used my cord and wrapped it around the back of Kevin's uniform, so I hung in the middle of his back. Kevin figured he would focus on the runners in front of us, and I would cover his back during the marathon. The "Boston Marathon" is a point to point course, so we were bused out to the start in Hopkinton. Kevin was plenty nervous on the bus ride, as he looked at the elevation map of the course. The first couple of miles downhill, then the big climbs during miles 17 to 22. I guess I was fairly calm considering this was also my first "Boston Marathon". Kevin's qualifying time of 2:42:02 started us in the first group right behind the elite runners. Kevin says when he remembers Boston, he remembers that moment right before the start with all the excitement. Fast-forwarding, the first half was pleasurable as Kevin and I hit all the goal times, and we crossed the half way point in 1:20:06, which, of course Kevin realized later was too fast. Kevin said he ran into a head wind the whole way, and he definitely underestimated the hills later. At mile 15 we saw Stephanie, and Kevin ran over to give her a hug. It gave me the chance to see the crowd up close. But the crowd here was nothing like by Wellesley College a few miles earlier. Wellesley College is for women only, and they can cheer! It sounded like one continous scream on the way through! Jumping to the punch-line, Kevin's legs cramped on the hills, and he had to stop numerous times to rub them before continuing, but the crowd, ever present, cheered loud when we could continue running, and they cheered all the louder when they saw me! So, I successfully completed my first "Boston Marathon" in a time of 3:02:27, and as I suspected appeared to be the only frog to do so. I was so pleased I didn't even mind accompanying Kevin to the medical tent for a couple hours. We both agreed everyone there was very nice.
June 2000 - Benoni (South Africa): Phil's visit in Benoni is still under construction. Phil went a bit wild there so everyone is still trying to get the story straight. In the mean time, Brian had to say this: "On Saturday morning we went to the Witbank 3-in-1 (three races of 5 km, 10 km and 21 km) in Witbank about 100 kilometers east of Johannesburg. I got the announcer to tell everybody about Phil. On Saturday afternoon we went to cross country in Boksburg which is about 30 kilometers east of Johannesburg. There was no frog section so a friend of mine, Josef, took Phil along for the Senior Men's 12 km. On Sunday morning we went to the Randburg 21 km run and 10 km walk. Randburg is just north of Johannesburg. I left Phil with a friend while my daugter and I ran the 21 km and he got to meet a lot of people. Phil has only run the cross country race so far. Next weekend I've promised another runner she can take Phil along for a 10 km race. Here is a photo of me and Phil in front of a frog friendly sign in Benoni. The Bullfrog Pan in Benoni is the largest frog reserve in the Southern Hemisphere and motorists in the area are asked to be careful of the frogs. As you can see, Phil is in great shape and is looking forward to Comrades on 16 June. The Star Newspaper in Johannesburg had an article about Phil and me last Friday".
July 7, 2000 - San Francisco (Usa/California) • Phil: Finally, I emerge from my little silver bullet, which by the way needs to change: I'm way too important to be flying silver bullet style. And no, I don't grant wishes. Last light of day I saw was in South Africa... so you can imagine how my head spun when I saw the world that now danced in front of my eyes: winding, hilly streets and sidewalk cafes were dotted with yuppy-hippies and a sweet herbal smell. Yep, San Fran baby! My assignment: pull Dawn through her first marathon, the "Chronicle marathon". Day 1 in San Fran she thows me in her bag and heads "out" to meet up with some long lost friends. Beers until they get shuffled back out onto the streets... doesn't she know she's running 26+ miles in less than 60 hours? I think this is not going to be an easy assignment. I mean, I have of a lot SPE vibes (Super Positive Energy) but you've got to help a frog out. At least there was no smoke filling the air. We sleep all day and wake up around 6 pm (she's still on Hong Kong time)... freako Dawn has a strategy for race day. She tells me, "Phil I run better at night, that's how I've been training, so I figure if I just stay on Hong Kong time 7 am will seem like 7 pm. We are sleeping all day and hanging out all night".
July 8, 2000 - San Francisco (Usa/California) • Phil: Night 2: we meet friends for dinner (no booze, yeah!!) and Jude and Dawn and I head to a crazy little cafe in the Castro to drink coffee all night. We get sick on the caffeine and head home around noon. Sleep all day and wake up to mentally prepare for the race... down some juice and a big muffin... digestively preparing as well.
July 9, 2000 - San Francisco (Usa/California) • Phil: Around 6 am we arrive at the start. Dawn grabs me and shoves me in her cell phone holder on her running back pack. Lemme tell you, the silver bullet seemed like first class compared to this squeeze. I'm thinking, "Dude, you don't deserve my SPE vibes". But it did have a nice view: I was at armpit level and looking straight ahead. We do all the check-in stuff and walk around the start area, sit around the start area, and stretch around the start area. Not because we want to... but that's what everyone else was doing... we join in the pre-start ritual... of "game-face". We're lined up and someone yells "start", no gun, no fanfare... just start. Right on. And the steps begin... and we take it slow and comfortable for the first 10 miles. Real nice, water at all the stops and a big joker smile is plastered on both of our faces. This really is an amazing course. We pass by all the sites, even the Golden Gate bridge. The weather outside is perfect... cool and sunny... and the weather inside is even better! Ten miles gone and I haven't even had to drum up SPE vibes for Dawn. After 10, Dawn grabs aviator glasses out of her pack and slides them on. Okay, now I'm super embarassed to be running with this girl. So I ask, "Dawn, what's up with the aviator glasses? Don't you know you look like a freak?" and Dawn looks at me and smiles, "Phil, that's the point... this race needs to be about me. Not another feat I can slap on my life resume to show the world how cool I am. These are my 'focusing glasses'. They keep me focused on what's important... me and this run... life really isn't about being cool". Ahhhhhh. I like that and suddenly am proud to be running with The Freak. At mile 16 a bunch of Dawn's friends are lined up at the base of a hill with a big sign. She throws them the "double gun" hi and we head up the biggest hill on the course. Dawn takes it in stride... I ask her, "Do you need some of my SPE vibes now?" she looks at me... she looks at the hill... she looks at me and says, "Hills are no problem... you just stand tall, take smaller steps and bounce... it's that easy". The crazy thing was... it was that easy. We stood tall and bounced up every hill, obstacles defeated. And we keep running and keep smiling and keep focusing. Mile 20... six to go. Twenty was the farthest Dawn had ever gone in training. A bit of doubt started talking in her head and she looked at me, "Phil a little SPE please". I looked back calm, cool and collected, "Dawn have you been listening to yourself all race? You know what to do... focus... just keep pulling back until you find a speed you are comfortable with. Pull back until you are loving running at this exact moment. It's not about finishing, it's about loving each moment... don't let your mind start laying the bricks that are going to build that wall". She yelled, "Right on!!!" and with that we quieted her mind. Last three miles were the fastest of the race... and we finished... one moment at a time... 4 hours 36 minutes... it was our pace.
September 2, 2000 - Pretoria (South Africa) • Keith Reynolds: We decided to take him out with us to two fun events. The first being the "Seringveld Safari Run" on Saturday morning 2 September. The race is out of town (around 30 kilometres out of Pretoria) and held on a cross country type course. A small field, around 300 athletes assembled for the two events (11 and 22 kilometres). The event started on a gravel road which had been watered down to prevent too much dust (for the first two kilometres anyway) with the different distances heading in opposite directions. For the shorter event fewer athletes took part (around 100). Soon after the start we (myself and Phil) found ourselves amongst the lead group. I was a little cautious about racing as I had the 100 Mile (11-12 August) and 50 Km events in the legs. After the first kilometre the lead group was down to four: a young athlete (about 10 years old), another adult runner, Phil and myself, accompanied by a Jack Russel and dalmatian (disqualified for using four legs and not officially entered in the race). After two kilometres we took a right turn and seeing the gradient of the hill and the powder dust we needed to run through, the competition faded. From here on Phil and myself ran out in front alone. At the top of the long winding path which brought us to the top of the hill, around three kilometres, water and Coke was offered. The course flattened off to some degree as we chased the leading vehicle (4x4 off-road vehicle). At four kilometres we passed the first official marker (16.19) looking back over my shoulder and over the top of the long grass I could see another athlete giving chase - too far back to really cause any worries. At this point I realised that I should slow down a bit as the work rate was quite high (182 beats per minute). The next slightly downhill kilometre flew past with only the dogs getting in the way. The 5 kilometre marker flew by (20.10) and another right turn again into powder sand. Now the race really got interesting as I had to slow down to pass a heard of cattle walking along the route. Finally another water point, grabbed water, and continued without changing the pace. Another heard of cattle - bigger this time - forced me to walk a little as they stood still and suddenly decided which direction they would take at the last moment. All the animals behind and another winding uphill lay ahead. After a seemingly endless climb of around two kilometres we were greeted by a spectacular view of the rolling valley beneath us. Not too much time to look as there are some athletes chasing - cannot see any but that could be due to the long grass and the zig-zag path. Really needed to concentrate as this section involves jumping over rocks on a road filled with sharp bends. The lead vehicle is battling to take all the turns quickly enough to stay ahead. We past a group of people out on a fun run/walk who were participating in a 5 kilometres event. The object of their race was to spot five bird species along the route and report where they saw each of them. By calculation I have around three kilometres to go but have just past a marker indicating 20 km (from the 22 kilometres event) - either this will be a short race or an extra loop will be thrown in at the end. The bends become less sharp and the terrain a little smoother. The worst of the downhill has been left behind and I can now see the finish area. Could still be forced to go down and back up the hill - nobody in sight chasing us. Turn for the finish - great - we just started enjoying the run - my motivation has been the fact that I could potentially win a race for the first time (have been running since 1980) and the question weather or not Phil had ever crossed the line first before. We broke the tape in 39.42, catching everybody, including the time keepers off guard. The race turned out to be a little shy of 10 kilometres - great fun all the same. Would have brought Phil a beer but he declined, said that the swinging around my hip over the rough terrain made him drunk enough. At prize giving I was awarded a gold medal and given one hundred rand for my effort (around $ 15). I managed to get hold of a race medal (bronze unfortunately) for Phil. After prize giving it was rush home to get ready for the next event. It was a ladies only event... unless you got dressed up for the occasion. I spared Phil the embarrassment and decided not to dress him up in a skirt for the race. He wasn't officially entered and wouldn't have made a difference as he could not be disqualified. I took a friend along for this fun walk of 5 kilometres. It was her first event so we took it real easy (not according to her). We finished the event in 58.57. The highlight being all the cat calls and whistles along the way. Phil received a lot of attention which made me quite jealous. I mean - here I am in stockings with a low cut blouse and blond wig and he gets all the attention. HAH! It was great having Phil along for the run. I wish him well in his future adventures and will always keep an eye out for him along the road. Thanks for letting him visit us. I trust he enjoyed the stay.
September 9, 2000 - Hong Kong (China) • Roberto De Vido: Mizue and I were off to Tokyo, leaving our home at 6:30 in the morning to catch an early flight. On the way out the door I spotted Phil, sitting there, resting up for his impending trip to Sydney for the Olympic Games. Phil has run a couple of times with us in Hong Kong and had had a couple of days rest, so we figured he would be fit for a quick dash to Japan. Also, with only an hour's time difference, he wouldn't have trouble getting his beauty sleep. In Tokyo later that afternoon there was time for a run, but Phil said he'd rather rest up in the room. The next day, he promised, he'd hit the road. Bad choice. The next day dawned hot, and quickly got hotter. That evening, we learned that the temperature had reached 39.7 degrees centigrade in Tokyo (nearly 103.5 F).
September 10, 2000 - Tokyo (Japan) • Roberto De Vido: We ran though, and so did Phil. Mizue and I were soaked after a few minutes - it was humid as well as hot - but Phil was alright. Probably since he's an amphibian getting wet doesn't bother him much. That night Phil suggested heading out for a drink to celebrate his arrival in Japan, and since we were staying in Ginza, Tokyo's glitzy shopping district, there was no shortage of choices. We decided on a wine bar called Amphorae, plural for "jar", if I recall my Latin accurately (thanks, Mr. Suter, for rousing me from sleep often enough that some of your lessons sank in!). In the Japanese style, Amphorae is upstairs in what appears to be an office building, and is not the most atmospheric wine bar you've ever been in. Phil thought the barman was great, though, and Satoshi Takagi bought a round for Phil and Mizue and I in honour of Phil's visit and the impending marathon gold medal of Naoko Takahashi, Japan's hope in the women's marathon in Sydney. Phil's mouth doesn't open, so Mizue and I split his drink. A couple more runs and another trip to Amphorae and then it was time to return to Hong Kong and the next day, head down to Sydney. Mizue and I didn't travel with Phil to Sydney, but Phil promised to send us an Olympics T-Shirt.
September 15, 2000 - Sydney (Australia) • Phil: I am at the Olympics! This morning I am going for a photo shoot of the final stages of the torch relay. Tomorrow morning I will be at the first medal race for the women's triathlon final. Let the Games begin. Visit my special Sydney 2000 webpage for all the details.
October 8, 2000 - Melbourne (Australia) • Samantha Mitchell: Well what can I say? It was the hardest challenge that I have ever set out to achieve and, despite an interesting second half, Phil and I made the full 42.195 kilometers. The lead up to the race was not as perfect as I had planned and what I thought was a bad dose of gastro in the early part of the week ended up obviously being nerves and anxiety as it returned to haunt me Saturday and early Sunday. I was therefore worried about what I should be eating and drinking in fear of never getting off the toilet and to the startline. Despite this, the advise of Kylie and Shane on my nutrition was great and the donation of Carboshotz from my friend Darryl at Infoods was great. With the addition of Phil's bouncing energy I felt a million dollars. I managed to get a great sleep on Friday, a full ten and a half hours and a lovely sleep in; Saturday was a little different as I watch two wonderful friends get married and then proceeded to sneak out half way through the reception and managed a restless six hours up and down from the toilet (sorry, a little too much information for you all). The first half of the race went as planned (Phil the frog attached to my back for additional inspiration) and I must admit I had to hold myself back as I continuously found myself speeding up. I felt great but I kept remembering what happened to Troope and Moneghetti so I slowed down and paced correctly. The drinking out of the paper cups was not easy and nor was the water up my nose a pleasant experience. I hit the half way mark at 1:51.15, right on target and feeling better good. The gulping out fo the paper cups caused a few tummy upsets but nothing a burb didn't help to ease. I thought to myself "This is not so bad after all and if I am careful I could break the four hour mark!". Well by the 27km mark things had turned and God did I hit one hell of a huge wall... I had horrible pains in my tummy that started out as a stitch and reasonable bearable. I managed to run throught the first two hits of pain but the third just wouldn't go away. The pain got worse and shifted to my tummy. A few small spounts of walking with my hands above my head eased the pain a little but by this stage my dreams of breaking the four hours had passed and it was purely survival. Friends run passed me which crushed my mental strength even more and the idea of simply finishing seemed out of sight. Phil was at ease as always and simply reminded me as to why I was running and that it was for personal satisfaction and nothing more: just cross the line. A quick toilet stop helped a little but not much. My dear friend Noel and amazing husband to be rode their bike along side me and helped me fight back the tears, pain and disappointment. By the 35km mark a sip of Coke and a "You can do it!" from the coach Brian who so kindly waited whilst everyone else had already past, spurred me on. The pain started to susbide a little as I shuffled through the 40km mark. The boys from the bike shop screamed and the rain poured down. Noel and Andrew still by my side as we laughed and shuffled through the rain over the last 2.2 kilometers. Phil and I both enjoyed the cool rain as the run was starting to take its toll on us. Andrew and Noel continued to tell me jokes and lighted the spirit as my body plodded on. Four hours had well and truly passed and we were now trying to break the 4:30 barrier. The final leg down Kerferd road, right into Canterbury and towards the finishing shot was fifteen minutes I will never forget. As I saw my parents at the finishing shot, the guys and girls from Sporting Spirit and my soon-to-be husband with open arms, the emotion overcame me and the tears flowed freely as the finishers medal was put around my head at 4:31.02. I must say at times I forgot about Phil attached to my back as the pain was far to great to think of anything else, but he became a wonderful topic of conversation as runners passed by. Both runners and spectators commented on my new friend. Andrew and Noel proceeded to tell the story of how I became so lucky to run with him and about the Run The Planet as I was to stressed to talk. Overall, I would have to say it was the most challenging experience, physically, mentally and emotionally I have come face to face with but one I do not regret nor want to change. Without sounding all mushing I learnt alot whilst I was out there pounding the pavement and know now that I can achieve anything I sent my mind on, even though at times I doubted myself. The thought of giving it another go is a positive one and I know now what I would do differently: no drinking out of paper cups (I would carry my own water to stop the gulping and air in my tummy), I wouldn't miss the training sessions because it was raining or I wanted to go out with friends at 6 pm instead of waiting till 8 pm, I would go out slower and pace throughout the entire race not just the first half, and I would run my race not one of those around me. Thank you for the opportunity to run with Phil: I couldn't have done it without him. He is now sitting on my bedside table recovering from his long run and planning the strategy for the next.