Justin Wachtel: Day 1 @ Foot Locker Nationals

My day began at 6:30 am and being out of the house by 7. We were at the airport a bit after 8 with plenty of time to spare before the flight. Our flight departed shortly after 11 and we were in the air for a little over 4 hours. I decided to spend my time watching a couple movies on Netflix and Disney+. John and I were on the same flight, but unfortunately our seats were not close together. We touched down in San Diego at little after 1 (pacific time). We met up with a Foot Locker Rep and the other Foot Locker qualifiers that were currently at the airport. Once we arrived at the Hotel Del Coronado, we were greeted by more Foot Locker reps, and got all the paperwork stuff out of the way and I was able to go ahead and put my bags in my room. Some of the others had to wait until that evening to get their rooms. Then I just hung out with some of the other qualifiers until it was time for us to get to see the gear.

All of the athletes on the South team entered the gear-room, and we each had a bag with our name sitting out. We all were very excited to dig in our bags and uncover the singlet we've been awaiting the past two weeks. Right on top were our bright orange south singlets along with our shorts. The bag seemed like a bottomless pit filled with gear as we emptied out the bag. I was not expecting to get as much gear as we ended up getting. After we all got a chance to get out first-takes on the gear, we took a couple quick pictures of the south team.

Afterwards, we had an hour or so of free time before the shakeout run at 5. I decided to go ahead and try on all the gear to make sure it all fit. Then I met up with the rest of the qualifiers along with some of the New Balance pro-athletes in the lobby before the run. It was really cool to talk to Emma Coburn and some of the other New Balance pro runners face to face.

After the 30 min shakeout, we changed and went to dinner at the ballroom. I got lost on the way there, so I was a tad late (lol) All of the South boys sat at a round table together. We had a variety of food choices in the buffet. I ended up just sticking with spaghetti and meatballs along with a salad. Once we finished eating, there were different games set up for the athletes play. I played some ping pong and talked to some of the guys from the West region. Afterwards we explored the rest of the Coronado Hotel then ventured to the beach. The hotel really comes alive once the sun goes down.. By the time 8:15 hit I was already worn out, and decided to get ready to go to bed. It was a lot of fun meeting all the fastest guys from across the country and putting faces to names. I'm very excited to see Balboa Park (especially the hill) in person tomorrow.