Euro Tour 2015

Out for a bike ride with my teammate, Kendra!

I’m writing to you from one of my favourite places: Leuven, Belgium. I’m not here for pure fun and adventure, per se. I’m here on business, but who says it has to be all serious?

I’m at the tail end of a little European racing tour. The circuit here is amazing – athletes from around the world venture to Europe for more races and to try for fast run times. Leuven is a city that many runners use as a base. Life here is like no other. North Americans tend to group together, making friends and spending the days structured around training, resting, eating and hanging out.

We get around by bike or on foot and we travel to track meets by train while airplanes or cars are for further destinations. Leuven has a beautiful square at the city centre, where many restaurants line the cobblestone ground and vibrant people converse, eat and drink. The training track here is strange. It’s shaped like an egg …very round.

This is my third year coming to this wonderful place and every year it feels a little more ‘homey’ and familiar. 

Found a nice spot which looks over the city; very peaceful!

Found a nice spot which looks over the city – very peaceful!

The Leuven City Hall, a noteable landmark in the city and break-taking every time.

The Leuven City Hall, a notable landmark in the city and break-taking every time.

One of the most popular spots for athletes is the waffle and ice-cream store. One, in particular, is open quite late and, while I’ve heard it is not necessarily a place where you’ll find locals eating, we love it dearly. Head there around 8 or 9 and people are lined up down the street – runners crowding in circles to chat and indulge in a hot waffle topped with melting, delicious ice cream. …I mean, vegetables and other healthy, wholesome ingredients?

As for races, I’ve had two so far: one in a small town called Heusden and another in Dublin, Ireland. I have another this coming weekend in a town called Ninove! The races are going well, but I know there is more in the tank for this upcoming one.

The atmosphere at these races is amazing: the stands fill and crowds line the track, drinking beer and having a blast. It’s a real event and people love it. Imagine if the city buzz was about “catching the track meet” and it was the thing to do. Our yearly Victoria International Track Classic is on the rise, but the European love for track and field throughout the region is definitely something to strive for.

I tend to keep my Euro trips pretty low key and avoid a lot of sightseeing, but sometimes we take a day trip to venture. The other day a group of us went to one of my favourite Belgian cities for a day – Bruges!

View from the top of the Bruges Belfry tower in the market square

View from the top of the Bruges Belfry tower in the market square

Rachel

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