Wednesday morning, Kami and I took a walk back to the town square in Brugge, but sadly I left the camera at home, thinking we wouldn't see anything different from the day before. The first thing was a beautiful swan floating down the canal, and when we arrived at the square, were pleased to see the farmer's market was in full force. There were a number of booths with rotisseries, and the smell of roasting chicken was nose candy, while the produce stands were eye candy. A boistrous vendor selling cherries placed large cherries in the hands of we onlookers, and I bought a kilo on the spot it was so delicious. There were imported fruits and veggies along side the local, as well as flowers and garden plants. We meandered up and down some of the streets, and eventually returned to the hotel, checked out, and headed up the road to our final destination.
Our hotel accomodations were located on the edge of Torhout in Hotel d'Aertyrcke which is still a mystery to me in terms of the history, since all I have found is written Flemish.
The castle is nearly surrounded by a moat and some nice short running trails. The hotel is situated behind the castle.
Kami and I went for a short run, mostly on trail. It felt nice to get off the pavement. We then had a team meeting - it was great to see everyone again - Adam Lint, Michael Wardian, Chad Ricklefs, Howard Nippert, Carolyn Smith, Devon Crosby-Helms, and our team managers - Lin Gentling, Mike Spinnler, and Lion Caldwell. Connie was delayed 8 hours in Philly, but made it in by 11:00 p.m.
I slept well Wednesday night, didn't get up until 9:00. After breakfast, Mike and Lin took those interested for a tour of the course. What should have lasted 30 minutes (given it is a loop course of about 20k) took 1.5 hours due to the circuitous nature of the town with its one-way streets, and the course going the opposite direction of said streets, and just general confusion. We got the gist of it - when the course enters a town center, there are lots of sharp turns, occassional cobblestone, and when rural, there are longer stretches of decent pavement. I think the total elevation gain for the race is 8 meters.
Upon returning, I went for my final run, then showered and lounged about until 7:00, when we all gathered up to go to town for the parade of nations. Conflicting reports resulted in us getting to town as the parade was starting, so we dashed to the start, Kami and Howard grabbed the flag, and we fell in behind, passing out small USA flags and pencils to children.