Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in beautiful Eugene is generally regarded as sacred ground. Although it’s tiny by comparison, it rates the same sort of love as other treasured athletic venues such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Lambeau Field, Rose Bowl, Notre Dame Stadium, Franklin Field, Ohio Stadium and maybe even DKR.
Anyway, for the fifth time, Hayward Field hosts the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials which begins today—ironically enough—about 100 miles north of Eugene in Beaverton, Oregon. That just so happens to be the site of Nike World HQ which is hosting the hammer throw. (Gives you some idea of Nike’s clout with USA Track & Field that it can get away with swiping an event away from Eugene.)
But the Trials begin in earnest tomorrow with the decathlon, early sprint rounds and two finals—the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. For the first time, there will be blanket TV coverage of the Trials (most of the finals will be live) on NBC (KXAN) and its cable affiliate, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
The most prominent Austinites in the Trials are Texas Ex stars such as Trials vets Sanya Richards-Ross in the 200 and 400 (she won the 400 in ’08), Leonel Manzano in the 1500 (second in ’08), Trey Hardee in the decathlon (second in ’08) and Raasin McIntosh in the 400 hurdles (fifth in ’04). Others who will be competing in their first Trials are former Longhorn 1500-meter runner Kyle Miller and current wide receiver-long jumper Marquis Goodwin.
Several other athletes are waiting to hear if they get in or not. Betzy Jimenez has a provisional qualifier in the 5000, but her qualifier is the slowest and her status is iffy. So is Kara June’s in the steeple whose qualifier of 9:58.41 is the sixth best of those with provisional times. Andra Manson is also wait listed in the high jump. Current Longhorn Ryan Crouser is in the same boat in the discus, but looks like he might get in.
Plenty of Austin track fans are on their way to Eugene and they are in for a treat. One of the things that makes track so special in Eugene is the historical importance it has. Here’s where Pre, Salazar, Chapa, Centrowitz (both) ran in college, where Hayward, Bowerman and Dellinger coached (Dellinger was also a great runner at UO), where some of the greatest NCAA champs and dual meets in history have been waged and even where the epic Animal House and less-than-epic Personal Best were filmed.
Still, what makes watching a meet at Hayward such a treasure is the fact that the knowledge, reverence and respect the Eugene fans pay track and field is unmatched in the United States.
There simply is no better place to watch a high-level meet than Hayward Field. I’m envious of everyone who is lucky enough to be there.
- Four Austin runners competed last Saturday in the USA Half Marathon Champs in Duluth. David Fuentes, who has won the last two Livestrong Austin Half Marathons, had one of the best races of his young career as he placed 30th in a 50-second PR in 1:06:11. His high school teammate and training partner Chass Armstrong finished 55th in 1:08:59. Biggest surprise of the day was Allison Mendez. The former UT runner ran a sensational 1:15:28 to finish 16th but just out of the prize money. Allison Macsas had a host of travel issues getting to Duluth and was 30th in 1:17:09.
- At the Moonlight Margarita 5-K last Thursday night, Jody Broccoli-Hickey was the overall winner in 16 minutes. Jeff Raines was second in 17:09, Nate Friedman was third in 17:14, Raul Garcia was fourth in 17:30 and golden oldie Mark Hernandez was fifth in 17:40. The women were led by Shannon Bixler in 19:44. Julie Cattell was second in 19:58, Jennifer Fisher was third in 20:08 (first master), Julie Neas was fourth in 20:33 and Judy McElroy was fifth in 20:46.
- The Western States Trail 100-Miler gets underway at 5 a.m. on Saturday. This classic which goes from Squaw Valley to Auburn is one of the crown jewels of trail ultramarathons and this year four Central Texans are in the field. Liz Howard of San Antonio is running as are Austin’s Denise Burley, Kyle McQuire and triguy Paul Terranova. Terranova, an otherwise sane guy who is one of the top amateur triathletes in town, is attempting something no one else has ever tried, much less accomplished. He is trying to complete the Grand Slam of Ultras this summer (Vermont 100, Wasatch Front 100, Leadville 100 and Western States) and if he’s still standing, he’ll do the Hawaii Ironman in October.
- Russ Secker will be leaving next week for his native England to do the first of four stage races this summer. Secker’s running the Round the Island of Wight on June 30-July1. This race is “only” 70 miles in two days which is nothing compared to some of his previous trans European races.
- The Freedom 5000 has been a staple of the July 4th holiday for the past few years. It has fluctuated from Austin HS to the Texas State School and this year it moves again. For the first time, the race will be held on the Camp Mabry grounds, right off 35th and MoPac. The race will benefit the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry. Also, this year, there will be timing, age group awards and a kids race. Great way to start the holiday.
- Austin Fit Magazine has moved its offices just a few hundred meters north on Lamar from its previous spot. The new office is at 2201 N. Lamar, Suite 220.
- If you care for this sort of thing, ’08 Olympic Trials 800-meter champ Nick Symmonds is going out with Paris Hilton. He’s invited the talent-less wonder to Eugene to watch him run in the Trials, but isn’t saying whether she’s coming. If she graces Eugene with her presence, she’ll be followed by a camera crew.
- Michael Madison and Dan Hopper of Gilbert’s Gazelles are leaving next week for Burundi. This will be Madison’s third trip to Burundi and the second for Hopper. Madison will be spending five weeks in the African nation (ancestral home to Gilbert Tuhabonye and his cousin Bernard Manirakiza). Madison will be leading two different groups of Gazelles (the first one arrives July 15th) who will spend time at two different water projects and look at potential future sites as well as volunteer at an orphanage (where Hopper will be spending most of his time) and learn more about Burundi. To date, the Gazelle Foundation (largely with proceeds from The Run for the Water 10-Miler) has funded six water projects in Burundi and a seventh will get going this summer.
- What I’m listening to this morning: “Unplugged” by 10,000 Maniacs. Natalie Merchant’s last (and best) recording with the Maniacs.
Have any juicy news for me? (It doesn’t have to be entirely true.) If you have something, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.