For Pole-Vaulters, Clearing the Bar Is the Easy Part

You know how hard it is to travel to other places, especially overseas, with luggage. Imagine you have to travel with sports equipment. Now imagine that equipment is your 17-foot-long vaulting pole. Olympic pole vault hopeful Mark Hollis is used to the hassle, but that doesn't make it easier.
“Traveling with the poles is just horrible; it’s the absolute worst part about this whole thing,” Hollis said recently. “The hardest is when other athletes complain. The sprinters have a gripe? Do you know what I wouldn’t give just to be able to throw my spikes in a bag and go?”

Fees and restrictions for checking baggage on airlines are perpetually rising, but pole-vaulters have little recourse.

Shipping companies are inconvenient and ineffective, because the poles must be sent days early and horror stories abound about chopped, chipped and cracked poles. So most vaulters endure the inevitable airport process: pack five or more poles weighing roughly 10 pounds each into bags that look like something a giant might use to carry his skis, and then approach the check-in counter with a hopeful smile.

The initial response, vaulters say, is almost always the same.

“I hope you’re not trying to check that,” Mary Saxer, who will be jumping in the trials here, said in a nasal tone, mimicking the curmudgeonly character she often encounters.

It's probably a problem you've never thought about. The New York Times has plenty of pole-vault travel stories, from airline clerks who reversed shipping policy to broken poles to driving with poles on the roof of a Volkswagen. Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Mary Saxer)

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