Last year, to celebrate Lil Sis’ birthday in some style, we went on a road trip to Detroit. Yes, Detroit.
We couldn’t help it. We had never been to. We weren’t thrilled with the notion of going to cities we had been to before like Montreal and Ottawa. And “nearby” cities like Chicago, New York, Boston and Quebec City aren’t so nearby. She found the hotel (Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport) which I successfully Pricelined for cheap. A former colleague had just set up in Ann Arbor so we could visit him on campus. People made faces when I said we were going to Detroit but their faces were soon erased when I would quickly follow up that we were also hitting Ann Arbor. Detroit was a top U.S. city of yore. Wouldn’t we see some of the old swagger?
Not really. We went into the city on Saturday afternoon and the kind of quiet you experience on the weekend in a financial district was present throughout the city. People have so clearly vacated the core. Plus, all the professional sports teams were playing away games that evening. It was eerie. We made our own fun anyhow getting Coney Island hot dogs for which Detroit is famous, strolling along the waterfront, and learning that the hub of activity that weekend surrounded the epicenter of the Detroit Free Press Marathon taking place that weekend! An American marathon alone is fascinating to me after my positive experience at another one (Portland ’08), but I soon learned that it’s a truly international marathon because the marathon and half-marathon courses wend their way from Detroit into Windsor via Ambassador Bridge and back to US soil via Detroit-Windsor Tunnel! Neat!
We visited my newly minted professor colleague for brunch on Sunday and for a walk around the University of Michigan campus. Lil Sis fell in love with the campus and U of M sports and we both loved spending time in the college town area. I think of part of Halifax as college town (the South End) but it’s nothing like Ann Arbor. She’s stoked to return and get into massive Michigan Stadium, housing U of M’s football field and eclipsing all other American university stadiums. But given the popularity of the college football team, we probably have to sell some of our organs to get the coveted U of M vs. Michigan State tickets on the Saturday, October 20 afternoon!
I couldn’t let go of the idea of doing Detroit (the only other US one I would do might be Chicago, and by driving that is another four hours farther than the four hours to Detroit) so, five days ahead of the most recent fee increase, I registered! I love how there is a ticker on the website showing somewhat real-time registration statistics. The International Half-Marathon clearly is the darling race with twice as many spaces for participants than all the other races combined. I’ve come to believe it is the perfect distance and we will get in the international segment and a quick tour of the cultural parts of downtown and tidily finish our race. Marathoners, on the other end, have a tough slog through what looks like residential neighbourhoods. Yawn.
I wonder (I’m sure there’s blog posts about it) how border crossings will be. Perhaps because you will be held up for a few minutes, this marathon could never be taken truly seriously. But it’s unique!
I must say, I had the most difficult border crossing at Detroit-Windsor entering Detroit. Since we left at about 6 p.m. on a Friday, we arrived at the border four hours later and the guard couldn’t quite believe that two girls, alone, would visit Detroit. We couldn’t exactly claim we were there for the shopping (why not Buffalo?) and we looked out of our minds to want to just visit. It smoothed things over when I mentioned that we would also visit a friend in Ann Arbor until he asked about my friend! He probably just wanted to see me squirm but, oh, did I really dread the possibility of having to explain my colleague’s work (also my past line of work) and if the question of my colleague’s nationality were to be raised! I was miffed enough as it was, no offense to my colleague, when the guard wanted to know if who I am visiting is my boyfriend. No!!
I wonder how easy it will be to cross the border when we simply say we’re coming into town to watch the U of M game and run in the marathon! Should be a breeze, except for the part where I keep running across the border and then try to leave for good.