Sunday, June 16, 2013

Eight chukkas at Bethpage

It's basically croquet-soccer on horses
Today's run (track): 3.5 miles

Happy Father's Day! I've written often about Bethpage State Park as a great place to run, but there are many other things to do there. This afternoon we decided to take in a few chukkas of polo for the first match of the season. It was quite an experience, which I'll cover further below.

This morning I started things off with a track workout at the local high school. This was not a speed exercise by any means, but it was a nice change from running in my neighborhood. I set off at a brisk clip as I made my way around the walkers positioned in the lane in front of me. Runners generally know to keep the inside lane open for faster traffic, but walkers usually don't follow that unwritten rule.

I did ten laps, five clockwise and five the other way. I had considered running some intervals, but I'm still battling this chest cold. I was hoping that this run might enhance my immune system, rather than wearing me out to the point where I became susceptible to a relapse. I felt good at the end, worked out but not exhausted.

After a Father's Day lunch, we headed over to Bethpage for the polo match. The Empire Passport once again proved its worth, allowing us to park for free in the main lot rather than pay the $10 parking fee for the event. Once we walked up the hill, we were greeted at the entrance where we paid $5 for our two adult tickets. Kids were free today, but I'm not sure that will be the case all summer.

Fast action
The Polo Grounds were set up with grandstands and across the way was a large tented VIP area where patrons were served drinks and food. I'm guessing their entry fee was bit higher than $5. We made due with items from the snack bar that were on sale at reasonable prices. Our seats in the grandstand put us less than 30 feet from edge of the field that is the size of nine football fields.

We enjoyed watching the match and it was relatively easy to follow the action. Polo is sort of like a combination of croquet and soccer, played on horses. Those polo ponies are extremely agile and do an amazing job of getting their riders to the ball. The players whack the ball dozens of yards ahead of them and scoring is frequent. The final score of today's match was 9-5, won by the local team.

A Lambo and a Lotus
After the 4th chukka there was a halftime break where spectators were able to walk on the field and over to the other side. Maserati was showing cars and it was fun to check them out. Better still, there was a Lotus, along with some classic Ferrari's and Lamborghini's. I would have been happy to just look at these cars the rest of the afternoon.

Scary to watch
Near the end of the second half, there was a shocking moment when one of the polo ponies collapsed during play. The rider tumbled off and play was stopped while they attended to the downed animal. The park people surrounded the horse with trucks to keep spectators from seeing what was happening and they eventually put the horse onto one of the horse carriers. No word was given on its condition but they did resume play.

We watched the rest of the match and made our way back to the car where we ran into some friends who were also at the match. We agreed that it was a great experience (despite the unfortunate incident with the horse) and a great thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Most importantly, it was a really nice way to spend Father's Day with my family.

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