2008 US Olympic Track and Field Trials, Eugene, Oregon Or, how I spent my summer vacation

6/28/08 Day 2

I woke up early this morning –still on Mountain Time. Vacation in Eugene, Oregon, must be time for a run. I ran for about 25 minutes on the trails by the river. Lots of other runner out — men, women, fast, slow. Runners everywhere.

I overheard a couple of runners talking as I walked to the cafeteria. “The fun run was pushed back until 9.” I asked what fun run? Hooties. Isn’t it tomorrow? “No the email said it was today”.

Hooties is an informal 5K held every year at the national championships and every four years at the trial. I have run it four times; it’s one of the only streaks I have going. Back upstairs, rest a bit, put my running stuff back on, and head over to the start. This could really hurt. I’ve only been running 2-3 times a week and usually two miles, which I had just done. But this is one I’m not going to miss; I’ll just have to walk more if I get too tired.

On the way over I ran into two of my running buddies from Reno, Ray and Harold. The start area was at the running expo east of the campus, which had several tents set up. According to the bulletin board there would be running clinics every day before the trial start and a wine and microbrew festival each night after with live music on the weekends. What more can you ask for?

The run finally started about 10 am. Peanut Harms and Mike Fanelli were waiting for the guest starter to arrive: Tommy Leonard, who is the bartender at the Eliot Lounge, in Boston, and Official greater of the Boston Marathon and founder of the Falmouth road race. Seems like the guys all kicked in to buy his plane ticket and get him out to Eugene for the trials.

We walked over to the river trail, where the race was to start. After introductions speeches. etc. we received the course directions, down the trail, across the river follow the trail, turn around at the big tree and come back.

Good thing I wasn’t going to be anywhere near the lead.

I ran ok, finishing in just under 30 minutes. Had to walk over the bridge on the way back. About 70 runners. Gary Finelli was there, (1988 marathon Seoul) actually wore his team singlet and shorts with the Marathon bib still attached. Twenty years later and it still fit. I hadn’t seen Gary since the early 80s. A lot of guys from California colleges, mostly in there 40s now, a lot of them coaching at high school and college level.

Back to the expo for the awards, you never know what is going to be handed out. Harold brought over Bloody Marys in pints, got through the awards and headed back to the dorms. It was about noon so I grabbed a sandwich and went up to my room. Ate, promptly fell asleep and woke up two hours later.

Got over to the track about 3:45 Missed the 100 but the crowd was still buzzing. Just in time to watch the men’s and women’s 400m Hurdles semifinal heats.

100M: Tyson Gray set the US record in 100 quarter final. 9.77 seconds — that is flying.

400M Hurdles: These athletes are fast and watching it is great, a combination of speed and grace. I don’t know how they can run that fast and get over the barriers.

800M Men: Coming back on night two and running a second round the 800 was great to watch. The Oregon contingent moved on to the next round, the crowd getting loader each night.

800M Women: Four women pile up in the second women’s heat. They went past us in a smooth group and as they get into the far curve there is a pile up. Four women lay on the track, including one of the favorites, Nicole Teeter. On the replay (there are huge screens at each end of the stadium) the third runner appears to clip the heel of the number two runner and they go down in a group. They are all back and running but can they make up the distance?. Teeter makes up a great deal of ground but finishes 5th, :05 seconds back. The rest even further. Only the top 4 go on to the finals. What is going to happen?

After watching the Shot Put for a while it’s time to head back to the Dorms, and grab some dinner, then maybe a beer at the expo. Music at the expo was really good, hung out until about 10 pm. It’s been a long day time to call it a night.