Travel Log: Penn Track & Field in England

Members of Penn's track and field program are sending back updates from the team's trip to England for the Transatlantic Series.

Travel Log

Monday, June 16 - Post from Noah Kennedy-White

An early start in Philadelphia began with a team meeting in Weiss Pavilion, where we organized the group and dispersed per diem. We also received various Penn track t-shirts to trade with our hosts. After a quick talk from the coaches to prep us for the travels, we loaded the buses and commenced the journey. After a fairly smooth bus ride to JFK, we passed through security and collected at the gate. With an about four hour wait ahead of us, I headed to a restaurant with Tom Pitt, Karl Ingram, and Jake Brenza for some food and to watch the Nigeria-Iran soccer game. The food was good but the game was fairly underwhelming. More waiting in the gate finally gave way to our 6:30 boarding time and the continuation of our travels. The flight was fairly smooth, with British Airways taking very good care of us. I managed to watch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a good action flick. Personally, I found one of the coolest parts of the flight was the fact that because we left in the evening, the sun went down about an hour and half into the flight, but then the path of the flight made it so that it was only dark for about another hour, then we got to see the sun rise again.

Tuesday, June 17 - Post from Noah Kennedy-White

Finally, after a long seven hours, we landed at Heathrow at around 6:30 a.m. local time and made it through customs fairly easily. After playing a real life game of Tetris while trying to fit everyone’s luggage into the bus, we pushed off to Birmingham. Two more hours of traveling mercifully passed by fairly quickly, and we arrived at the University. We were matched with our hosts, and I was put in a flat with Karl Ingram, Tom Pitt, and Mason Smith. It’s a fairly well-sized apartment with seven occupants. After a bit of down time with our hosts, we went down to what remains of the University track for practice. There is construction occurring where the track used to be, so only about a 110-meter section of track remained usable. Our teams clearly didn’t have quite the right facilities for a full practice, so we did what we could with the space and put about a good hour in. After returning to the flat, we all showered and headed to the grocery store across the street to get supplies for dinner. Several kilos of meat and packs of pasta later, we had a nice spaghetti bolognaise dinner. We lounged around a bit following dinner and then headed to a restaurant called Urban Village for the planned athlete social. We hung around watching the Brazil-Mexico match. Slowly people began to file in, and eventually it turned into a very pleasant hangout. I was able to meet and mingle with most of the Cornell representatives and a lot of the English hosts and their housemates. After the match ended, most of us went dancing for a bit and then returned home to prepare for practice the next day.

Wednesday, June 18 - Post from Noah Kennedy-White

After a somewhat uncomfortable night on the sofa in the living room, we were awoken bright and early by Mason to get to practice. We walked up to the buses and boarded to head to Halesowen to practice at a full facility. The track was actually surrounded by a cycling track, which I found to be very cool. We practiced for about an hour and a half and then drove back to the University. We finally exchanged some of our American money for more Pounds and then ate lunch at a local food place called Big John’s. It’s a fast food place with an amazingly wide range of foods, from different kebabs to fish and chips and 16-inch make-your-own pizzas for £4.29. Karl and I shared a pizza and then we all got ready to head into Birmingham’s city center. We took the train in with a large group of Cornell and Penn people, and first went to Bullring, a major shopping mall in the area. The area around Bullring is sort of an open mall, with no roads and shops on all sides. After spending a bit in the mall, I walked with Karl and Tom and one of our hosts, Jack, through a good part of the city. We saw a beautiful cathedral, and then walked to the canal running through the city to sit at an Italian restaurant on the side of the canal. The weather turned fairly beautiful so we sat for a good while, and actually met up again with most of the people who came to the city. We took a nice picture on the bridge spanning the canal at the spot we had chosen, and then walked back to the New Street Station to catch a train back to Selly Hook (The University of Birmingham).

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - post from Taylor Hennig

Greetings from our last day in Birmingham! To start, let me just say that we have all come to know that jet lag is VERY real ... day 3 and most of us are still exhausted (probably mostly due to the late, crazy nights our hosts have shown us) but everyone is pushing through and having the best time.

The kids at Birmingham have been super laid back, and tons of fun. Our day started with practice at 9 a.m. and it was a pretty light day for most. Following training, a majority of the group boarded one of our buses and headed to Warwick Castle for the day. It was amazing ... just what you'd imagine a castle to be, but didn't think really existed. There was a huge, elaborate dining room, servants' quarters, dungeons, immaculate decorations in every room, and views of a river surrounding it (yes...most likely what used to be a moat) that no picture could capture. There were also bowman shows, rose gardens, and a peacock that wandered around and followed us all day. It was a fun day of exploring!

We all took the train home after and met our hosts for a barbecue at a park near campus. Then, at 8pm ... game time. England against Uruguay in the World Cup, and no better way to watch it then surrounded by their crazy fans in a British pub. It was packed with rows of stools surrounding multiple TVs throughout...and when England scored, the place went nuts. American football fans have nothing on these people ... it was quite an experience and we were all happy to be England fans for the night.

That was pretty much the day in sum! The adventures continue...and tomorrow our focus turns back to track, as we head to Bedford for the U20/U23 British Championships!

Friday, June 20, 2014 - post from Taylor Hennig

It's off to Bedford! The British National Championships are tomorrow and we are lucky enough to be allowed to compete! After about a two-hour bus ride we arrived at our hotel, had a couple hours to grab lunch and then headed to the track for pre-meet. We got back around 4 p.m., and had the rest of the day/night to hang out. Lots of World Cup was watched, pool and cards were played, adventures to find dinner, and definitely lots of napping. A few of us even explored downtown for a bit too which was nice to see. Other than that it was off to bed early to rest up for the first day of competition!

Wish us luck to represent America proud!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014 - post from Mason Smith

Hello Penn Track Family and Friends,

This is senior captain and sprinter Mason Smith writing to you from Bedford, England. As I’m sure many of my teammates have written so far, we had an absolute blast with our friends at the University of Birmingham. We spent time training with the team on the track as well as exchanging cultures and building friendships in Birmingham. We arrived here on Saturday at the historic Bed Form Stadium eager to show our friends across the pond what we can do in competition. The competition is fierce as the U20 competitors are competing for their chance to run in their world championships meet. The U23 competitors have also shown some incredible performances across all events and have impressed us here on day one. So far, it is a tough call to decide what has been the best part of the trip so far: the impressive competition in athletics, or the warm hospitality we have received as guests. We can only hope to have a great day at Bedford Stadium tomorrow, as we are all so excited and grateful for the opportunity to make this trip. More great stories and recaps to come soon...


Sunday, June 22, 2014 - post fromMason Smith

Hello Again!

Mason Smith here, brining you a recap of Penn’s performance at the British U20/U23 National Championships from Bedford. We were very honored to be a part of this elite championship meet. Penn T&F has showed up confident and prepared to compete, but have found our British opponents to be very skilled across all events.

Our squad was fortunate enough to have several competitors to qualify for semifinals and finals. Final qualifiers for the U23 events were Gabbi Piper (100HH), who ran against GB’s number one heptathlete, Heather Bong (200m), Amanda Fields (triple jump), Amaris Kobolak (long jump), and Kelsey Hay (javelin). Kelsey placed second launching her second-best throw all season. In the Under-20 group, Cleo Whiting set a PR in the 1500 running under 4:30.
On the men’s side, Noah Kennedy White paced first overall in the U-20 discus, which was very exciting. Ben Bowers made the U-23 final in the 110HH while Drew Magaha was the top qualifier in the prelims of the 800m and ran against some tough competitors in the final.
Overall, Penn Track and Field was honored and humbled by the British Championships in Bedford. We are all looking for some much needed rest after two days of competition. Tomorrow, many of us will take an excursion to London to enjoy the sights and be tourists.

Until next time...

Monday, June 22, 2014 - post fromMason Smith

Greetings Penn Track Nation!

Mason Smith again, coming to you from London, England. Almost all of the team has broken in to groups and taken trains from Bedford to explore London!

Upon arriving to the city, we boarded a “Hop On, Hop Off” double decker bus which we could use as we please to tour throughout the entire day.

For many of us, myself included, this is our first time in a foreign country and we are amazed at the sites to see. On our excursion, we were able to see the National Gallery Museum, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, West Minister Abby and much more...

With such a jam packed day of sightseeing, it sure feels good to sit in a traditional English pub for some fish and chips and be thankful for being able to take this trip.

We leave Bedford early tomorrow for Cambridge as we look to continue our awesome journey!


Tuesday, June 23, 2014 - post from Kersie Jhabvala

Hello....from Oxford!! This is Kersie Jhabvala, one of your senior captains who's fortunate enough to update you on our England excursions thus far. After a great few days in Bedford, our travels take us to the world-renown University of Oxford. From posting up in a hotel in Bedford, to now reenacting our Penn freshman years...we get to experience dorm life once again! Each of us were handed dorm keys to which led us to various dormitories (roughly 3-4 stories high) all in the same vicinity. Thankfully we wouldn't have to trek across the city just to meet up with other team members.

Our noon drop off allowed us just enough time to get settled before lunch in a nearby dining hall at 1:30 p.m. Some of us, including myself, took it upon ourselves to go explore the downtown area before lunch, and man-oh-man were we in awe. Little did we know that the town offers more than just a prestigious school! We crossed over a small bridge that overlooked a beautiful canal--similar to Bedford--with probably the coolest thing I've seen on a campus--punt boats! Just to fill you in (because I had no idea what a punt was either), it's a flat-bottomed boat made for small rivers with one person standing on one end that rows. Look it up!

Our team practices were held at 3 p.m. in glorious weather at the Iffly Road track...oh, I guess I should mention that aside from it being where Oxford athletics are held, it's also where the first sub-4 minute mile in the world was big deal. Upon practice and dinner in the dining hall, we explored more of downtown and took an obscene amount of pictures. Just to add, Oxford is made up of 28 different colleges, and we saw only 4 of them today, in addition to a multitude of churches, antique shops, and several cafés lining the street. The campus certainly is spread out, but it certainly rivals the looks of any Ivy League offense.

Sorry to ramble, but day one in Oxford needed a hefty intro. More to come!

Wednesday, June 23, 2014 - post fromKersie Jhabvala

Hello again from Oxford! Thanks to the great weather, we've had a fantastic day of exploration throughout the city. One of the highlights of today certainly was punting (as I mentioned last post), and it definitely is more challenging than it looks. I got the chance to steer one using a large metal pole/oar, and very often did I nearly lose the pole or fall off the boat. It was worth it though to say that I punted at Oxford, casually.

Afterwards, a majority of us continued to roam the city and the hidden gems of campus. Chelsea Delaney, Coach Klim, and I ventured around what's known as Christ Church, which also is where much of Harry Potter was filmed. Additionally, we got the chance to tour around one of the many colleges on campus, known as Balliol College, which was by far a spectacular in itself, especially considering the fact that students Tahoe classes are there. OH, I have to mention that I finally got to experience Britush Afternoon Tea---consisting of tea, mouth-watering scones, and the best jam/clotted cream EVER. Check that off the list.

The evening allowed us to meet a bunch of the Oxford Track athletes, and they were more than welcoming. We started out, ironically, at Balliol College where we were able to meet and greet in one of their college pubs. Then, we headed over to a very upscale lounge, called St. Vincent's, for a planned evening of mixing and mingling with more of the team.

That's it for now!

Thursday, June 25, 2014 - post from Chelsea Delaney

Hello from another day in Oxford! This is Chelsea Delaney, another one of the senior captains. This trip has been amazing so far, and I'd have to say that Oxford is the most beautiful town I've ever seen!

Despite already being here for a couple days, there are still so many new buildings and areas to explore. So after a training session this morning and lunch in the dining hall, we had a free afternoon to roam around town some more. Some went shopping while others toured the different college buildings and museums. I decided to pay a visit to the Museum of Oxford in Town Hall as well as Christ Church which is one of the largest--and oldest--colleges within the University. I loved Christ Church not only because of the amazing architecture and history behind the various rooms and buildings but because it is also the main location where the Hogwarts scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Yes, the Great Hall is as grand and opulently decorated as it is in the movies!

While a good number of people went to a pub later in the afternoon to watch the USA vs. Germany World Cup match, some of us went and had traditional English afternoon tea with scones and teacake. I've been wanting to do this the entire trip, so I'm happy to be able to check this English tradition off my to do list!

It has been a bit of a rainy night ever since dinner (surprisingly, the first day we've encountered rain the entire trip) so it's been a quiet, relaxing night filled with hanging out in the dorms, movie watching, and packing. Sadly, it is also our last night in Oxford and we are off to Cambridge in the morning. I'm excited to see what Cambridge has in store for us and anxious to see if it will be able to top our amazing stay here. Until next time!

Friday, June 26, 2014 - post fromChelsea Delaney

Hello from the last destination of our England tour: Cambridge! We made the two-hour journey by coach bus this morning, and it is definitely a different feel than all of the other places we've been. We're staying in the dorms at Fitzwilliam College, one of the 36+ colleges that make up the University of Cambridge. From where we are located, things are a lot more spread out than in Oxford. We trekked 15 minutes to the track while myself and the other Penn middle distance guys walked another 15 minutes or so to their newly constructed fitness center to cross train. Definitely a lot more walking but lots of scenic open fields and modern looking academic buildings to be seen in the process.

From the track, we ventured to the home of Neville Norman, an economics professor at the University and huge contributor to the Transatlantic Series Meet that we will be competing in on Monday. He and his wife Margaret provided us with snacks and drinks in their backyard.

Following the outing, we made our way back to our college for dinner. The dining hall here is definitely a little bit more stingy about the amount of food they give out. No second portions allowed!! Later in the evening, some people decided to make the 15-20 minute walk to the center of Cambridge while others went to a pub for a casual evening of getting to know some of the Cambridge students on the team.

That's it from me! Many more adventures to come tomorrow when we venture more into Cambridge and take another day trip into London!