Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Trek for Track

Prefontaine on DVD
Gets 10 thumbs up here!
Or maybe 20.  :-)
We had a little different track experience this year, due to the strong urging of Princess Eager.  Led by Prince Go-for-It's previous running obsession, our family has watched the movie, "Prefontaine" countless times.  (I keep hoping for a different ending!)  Because of that, we have become fans of the Oregon track program and Olympic track events, and Hayward Field seems like a fantasy place.

Steve Prefontaine and his Oregon and Olympic teammates were instrumental in scheduling and hosting the first world-class track meet held at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in the 1970s.  Now referred to as the Pre-Classic, it's an event our kids have always dreamed of attending.  Prince Go-for-It was able to go a few years ago.  

When he heard that Princesses Eager and Artiste and I were thinking of going this past May, he encouraged it.  We were deciding whether to make it just a Saturday day-trip, or stay overnight and get there in time for the Friday night events, and he said "GO FRIDAY."  Those events, he said, though free and treated as somehow less important, were the best.

Are we glad he said that!  

The trip southward was loooong.  The 5 1/2-hour trip turned into almost 7 because of we crawling through Portland commuter traffic on a sunny Friday afternoon.  We stopped off at our hotel in Springfield, where we were given a room with a king-size bed and without the promised fold-out couch. Unable to change rooms, we wedged in a cot, then headed for Eugene.  

The atmosphere was so special... It was a beautiful, clear evening, and we were in HAYWARD... 

...under the lights with the sun setting.  We saw new records set in discus (having only seen high school track meets, I'd never seen a discus sail like that!), and caught our first glimpses of Olympic athletes from all over the world.  The crowd was big for that night, apparently, but small compared to Saturday. It may not be next year, because of the last event of the night.  

Nike, started in Oregon by U of O track coach, Bill Bowerman,
was the major sponsor.  The girls are in front of their lighted sign.

I never thought a 10,000 meter run on the track could be so exciting...but when US athlete, a former U of O runner, Galen Rupp, pushed out of the lead pack in the last couple laps to absolutely own the race and shatter the American record, it was beyond awesome.  

It's hard to photograph running runners!

His last 2 laps were both under a minute, after a race pace of 65 seconds/lap.  For my two 400 m runners, this was phenomenal, and they were blown away... Like the rest of the crowd, which was on its feet and roaring.  I am not a runner, but it was COOL.

The next day we had time to wander the beautiful campus and play a bit before events got underway at noon.  

It was hot and crowded, but we were excited to see more famous names/faces, and see more records broken in all sorts of track and field events.  We saw Justin Gatlin take the 100m dash, and Sanya Richards-Ross ran the 400 right underneath where we sat.

Sorry, again, for a bad photo, but that's how close we were
to Olympic caliber athletes, and that's how nice
they were to sign programs, etc.
Later in the afternoon, we went down to stand by the track, the girls hoping to see the 110 hurdles, and their hurdles idol, Ashton Eaton, much better.   There, we got to see several track greats up close.  When Allyson Felix warmed up for the 200, she ran right at us, only feet away.  We saw the battle between Kirani James and LaShawn Merrit, in the 400 meters, which finished in a tie.  The traditional Bowerman Mile was a highlight, too. (Bill Bowerman was Pre's coach, and also one of the originators of Nike and their waffle trainers.) 

Besides seeing the famous faces up close, the girls got autographs and high-fives from international track stars doing their victory laps.  I do think Princess Eager has washed her hand since, but she didn't want to.

I'm so glad Princess Eager pushed for us to make this trip.  I had so much fun having girl-time-- seeing the campus, watching the meet, and after, meandering our way north, taking a side-trip to get a look at Oregon State University, as well.  Strongly motivated to get moving, the girls just had to stop at the Nike Outlet Store in Portland to get new running shoes on the way home.  :-)  We hope to make the Pre-Classic a yearly outing.

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