May 5, 2003 - Colorado Springs (Usa/Colorado) • Phil: Hi everyone (puff, puff, wheeze, wheeze). Holy cow, I can't breathe. Okay, okay, it's not that bad. I'm only at ~6200 feet above sea level. Still, I needed a couple of days to get acclimated. Rather than going for a run right away, Robert showed me around town and even took me to where he works. I fell in love with a co-worker of his and actually proposed to her. Alas, I couldn't marry her. I'm destined to travel the world and she just wasn't enough of a free spirit to go with me. So, we went on a few runs to ease the pain of traveling the world alone. We ran in Ute Valley Park right near the hotel, err, I mean Robert's home. Here's a great picture of me at the sign at the entrance to Ute Valley Park.
May 11, 2003 - Colorado Springs (Usa/Colorado) • Phil: On Sunday, May 11th, I got a big thrill when I got to run with Matt Carpenter (the world's best mountain runner). Matt is the leader of the Incline Club, and on Sundays, the club meets for their weekly long run. Well, did we go long... and high! We went to the top of Pikes Peak, elevation 14,115 feet. No, no, we didn't drive - we ran!! Suddenly, 6200 feet above sea level doesn't seem so bad. One of the cool things about the Incline Club, they have an "About me" page that members can fill out. Yup, you guessed it - I filled one out cause I'm now an official IC member. Now you can read all about me and my run up Pikes Peak.
May 13, 2003 - Colorado Springs (Usa/Colorado) • Phil: After the Pikes Peak run, I needed a couple of days rest. I finished out my time in Colorado Springs with a couple nice runs through the Garden of the Gods. Boy did they name that correctly. I love being in front of the camera and I made Robert take my picture several times while there. Here I am at an overlook with a bunch of spires in the background. This one is at balancing rock. Can you guess why it's called that? While in the Garden of the Gods, we also stopped at the Trading Post and I picked up a key ring. Hey I don't have any keys now, but you never know when you'll need it. I guess until then it will just be a necklace. Well, I've enjoyed my time here but, it's time to leave Colorado and head across the big blue ocean to the United Kingdom to visit and run with another Planeteer. Have fun and keep running!
May 28, 2003 - Ponteland (United Kingdom) • Phil: Arrived in Ponteland, Northumberland. Collected by Gail and Willie. No organised runs around now (Gail and Willie are in training for the "Great North Run" in September but I can't stay that long). Also, Gail and Willie are planning to take part in a relay run along the length of Hadrian's Wall during the summer, but this still in the planning stage. So, will use this time as rest and recreation. Went on short run around the village of Ponteland. Typically English village, full of cyclists, runners, people walking dogs. Found the pub and the church - not sure which is the more important to the social functioning of the village. Couple of days later and it's the long weekend training run. Willie and Gail took me along the River Tyne, using a running/cycle path that was full of folk. Ended up at Wylam, yet another village (this place is full of them!). Just avoided being hit by a ball going along the golf course, narrowly missed being eaten by dogs on several occasions, didn't fall into the river at all but did fall in a nettle patch. This is apparently very normal when running in England. Ended up by rehydrating with Newcastle's famous athletic energy drink - Brown Ale. Sneaked off to explore Newcastle. It's supposed to be the night life capital of the United Kingdom but I can't remember if it lived up to it's reputation or not. Couldn't go running with Gail and Willie the next day so must have had a good time. Willie is a doctor who specialises in treating people with Huntington's disease so he made me dress up in a special T-shirt. He says if anyone wants to find out more about this condition, they should go to www.hda.org.uk. He is going to advertise me and Run The Planet through the Huntington's disease organisations. Several more local runs through bridal paths, fields, disused railways and farmyards, but the big news is that I have met a young lady frog who is willing to keep me company on my travels. She is called Frogmella, and is beautiful. Fortunately, there is room in my silver pill for two. Time to go on with the world tour. Frogmella and I are looking forward to making more friends among the Planeteers.
May 29, 2003 - Ponteland (United Kingdom) • Gail and Willie Barker: Phil was a very pleasant guest. Despite being such a cosmopolitan frog with many exciting running experiences, he seemed to enjoy the peace and quiet of the North of England. He did disappear on one night and turned up the next morning looking green around the gills, but he said that that was normal for a frog. Hmm, couldn't bring himself to run though, so we are a little suspicious about what he got up to. Phil certainly enjoys his athletic energy drinks. Peace and love to all Planeteers.
June 26, 2003 - Preston (Usa/Connecticut) • Phil: Tough flight: the movie was some tired Schwartzenegger dog, the lunch was bland, those Economy seats were smaller than my pill... honestly, you Planeteers have got to start booking me into First Class. Otherwise, it's been a good trip. Gail and Willie from the U.K. were gracious hosts, and meeting Frogmella there was a special bonus. We had a lot of time to talk over the Atlantic. Connecticut is one of those quirky old New England states, with ultra-tiny villages and noisy industrial cities and weather that changes every day. We had rain and mid-50s when we arrived Sunday; today, it was sunny, humid and hit 96. My main host here is Don, a pleasant enough sort. As a runner, though, he's more of a VW bus - or even a Winnebago - than a Lamborghini. I stay real slow so he doesn't fall too far behind or feel bad. His wife, Jeanne, runs too, but their daughter Kate "retired" after 8th grade track. They're a decent bunch. Jeanne's fed me strawberries from her garden and some awesome beef stew, and Kate sings Geddy Lee tunes at night. This afternoon we ran a really awesome bridge in the town of Willimantic - decorated with four 11-foot-high metal frogs along the sides. Next we drove to Preston for the 1-mile Cannonball Run. They started at 7 pm, and it was still 87 degrees and muggy - everybody was sweating hard at the start line. Something unique: their starting "gun" is a cannon, and plenty loud. Well, off we went, with ol' Don chugging and wheezing like taxicab with a bad muffler. We crossed the finish together around 7:50. Preston seems like a little community with friendly folks. Some generous neighbors along the route put a sprinkler in the road to cool off the racers, and handed out watermelon slices to runners when it was over. Back at the registration tables, volunteers fed us trays of cookies and fruit. Frogmella enjoyed that part. On Sunday we're supposed to run a 5K in Bridgeport, one of Connecticut's big cities. I'll write more for you then. And after that, Frogmella and I will be back in the air en route to our next adventure.
June 29, 2003 - Bridgeport (Usa/Connecticut) • Phil: So a long time back, factories in this city made guns, sewing machines, typewriters and other stuff. But P.T. Barnum, the circus guy, was the really big name, and the city still holds a yearly Barnum Festival. A parade is part of it, and Frogmella and I watched some of that. About an hour before the parade starts, there's a 5K that goes over the identical route - so by the time you line up at the start, there are already crowds of people along the sidewalks, and you enjoy this enormous "audience" along the whole course. People were pretty excited to see me, I'm sure. I ran it with Don, and we got beaten in the last quarter-mile by a 7-year-old. Well, at least being with the slow guy gave me time to wave to my fans. There was rain right before the race, then the sun came out at the start - it was so hot, steam was coming off the pavement. I guess I should've had more Gatorade beforehand; I sort of collapsed against Don's water bottle at the end. Luckily Frogmella and some new friends - this caped donkey, some fuzzy little froggy, and this red-mouthed sort of tough-guy frog named J - helped grab ice for me.
July 4, 2003 - Milford (Usa/Connecticut) • Phil: The 4th of July in the United States, a 5K with nearly five hundreds runners, refreshments of barbecued chicken with mushrooms, pizza, fruit, bagels - how can it get better? Plus, I didn't run with Don (he's a nice enough host, but "speedwork" for him is an 8-minute mile). Anyway, I ran with his wife, Jeanne. Turns out she's even nicer but, if you can believe it, even slower. Honest, you could time both of them with calendars. Well, when we crossed the line, the race director, Marty Schiavone, announced on the loudspeaker "Here comes Phil the Frog with Jeanne". Got a lot of applause. Plus, at the end I got to meet George Whitney - he's 84 and runs lots of these races. Nice guy. I don't do endorsements, Planeteers, but I gotta say that having Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the post-race foodfest was extra cool. Trouble is, now I'll need to try some cross-training to work off the bonus calories. Frogmella and I are flying out to the West Coast tomorrow - can't wait to meet another Planeteer. Meantime, keep running, guys.
October 20, 2003 - Farmdale (Usa/Ohio) • Kim Ruble: Although we had to wait a very long time for his arrival, we sure enjoyed our time with Phil. During Phil's visit, we celebrated by taking him to see Simon & Garfunkel in concert at the Gund Arena in downtown Cleveland. He enjoyed dinner at Cooperstown (Alice Cooper restaurant) and was heard singing with the crowd on "The Boxer" and "Cecilia". He wanted to hold up a Bic lighter on the encore, but I was afraid that it might burn him. My friends and other audience members thought it a bit odd that I had a frog attached to the zipper of my vest. But when you are host to such a international frog, what's a little embarassment? We also had the pleasure of taking Phil on the inaugural "Akron Marathon". The race started at the Lockheed Martin Airdock. Sorry I wasn't able to get a picture of Phil with the blimp flying over head at the start. During the run he was treated to some of the sights of Akron including, Stan Hewyit Hall (a mansion build by the Seiberlings), the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath trail and finished in Canal Park (a minor league baseball park of the Cleveland Indians). As you can see in the photo, he became rather attached to the medal he received for finishing. We also took Phil on vacation with us to Foxwood's Resort in Mashantucket (Connecticut). Here he was seen wearing shades and playing in the World Poker Tour Tournament. (Don't look for him on Wednesday night on the Travel channel though as we didn't make it that far in the tournament!). Phil could have been as famous as Chris Moneymaker (2003 World Series of Poker winner) had his full house not gotten beat by four of a kind! Then it was back to Farmdale, Ohio for a short layover after which Phil attended a work conference with me in St. Paul, Minnesota. Boy it is cold up there! As I forgot to buy Phil a jacket, we got a few runs in on the hotel treadmill. We also visted the Mall of America. He especially enjoyed his visit to Hooter's at the Mall, although I think he might have had too much to drink. Once I got back, I packed him in his little time capsule (with what appears to be his girlfriend) and wished him the best on his way to meet Connie Krug in South Africa. I hope he will fondly remember his trip to Ohio (and a couple other states).
December 8, 2003 - Stellenbosch (South Africa) • Connie Krug: Phil couldn't have arrived in Stellenbosch at a better time: the week previously, I started training on the "Survivor Programme" for the "Two Oceans Half-Marathon", which will take place in April next year. Call that a motivation booster. That frog is not to be let down when it comes to running. Well, compared to his stay in Ohio, life in Stellenbosch was a bit more ordinary - short training runs, long training runs and work (lots of work!). But as we live on a farm outside Stellenbosch, in the winelands, the running routes and views are more than stunning. Phil enjoyed not only the trails through the vineyards, but also sampling the fruits of the vines. He also met my very enthusiastic running partners - Rachel and Ruben, our yellow and black labrador retrievers, and then of course Vonkies (afrikaans for sparks. She'd be called "Sparky" were she English). She is the most enthusiastic of them all, and gets really excited when the running shoes come out. As she is an avid guinea fowl chaser, she runs more and faster than everyone else, and not even Phil could keep up with her. The long runs took Phil through the town of Stellenbosch (plenty of Cape Dutch architecture), and along the Eerste Rivier, the first river Jan van Riebeck encountered when he travelled inland from Cape Town. After the runs, Thandi was waiting for us to come back, and Phil really enjoyed relaxing with her - this cat has turned sleeping and relaxing into an artform. Tom the Tiger still does not know what to make of that green thing - but luckily, he decided that Phil does not resemble a mouse and is therefore not worth hunting. Now Phil is travelling again, and we wish him luck! It was great hosting him, and I think he had a good time in the winelands.