An alarm going off at 2 am only means one thing in mid-winter: travel time. After two weeks of Almaty, we only had one more time to endure the smog. One quick trip to the airport and we would be out of there. While each of us gained unique experiences and enjoyed it for a while, it was definitely time to leave.
Starting travel became stressful as the clock ticked down and several people were trapped outside passport control awaiting their handwritten baggage fee receipt, but even these people made it. For me another flight into Prague, nine hours waiting for vans, and a two hour drive completed the journey. Kazakhstan was over.
The last few days in Almaty had flown by and dragged on simultaneously. After racing the pursuit (read about the race here) things definitely took a turn for the worse as I settled into an evening and night suffering from food poisoning. This stripped the entertainment from the odd awards ceremony that occurred that evening. Instead of laughing with the rest of the team at the loud music, copious vodka flowing from the open bar, and scantily clad women at the party for a junior championship, I resigned myself to searching around for seating feeling miserable.
With the rise of the red sun through the smog, things were getting better. Relay day is always full of enjoyment paired with regret that I no longer get to race world junior relays. Unfortunately there is no U23 relay; however, after a restless night, I wasn’t too sad not to be racing. Soon after the race, our packing was finished and we gathered for a final U23 bonding moment eating crappy hamburgers and pizza in hotel bar.