Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Prefontaine Classic

I'm excited. Thrilled. Beyond psyched.


Because it's my first track meet of the year when the sun is actually shining! So far this season, it's been cold, rain, wind, some snow. No more.

Pre-game at Hayward Field

And, BTW, this is the best meet of the year. Anywhere.

After arriving in town on Friday, I went straight to the Hilton to meet up with NC track blogger Pat. Instead of seeing tons of runners, the first mob I see is attending the hotel's tattoo convention.

I don't make this stuff up.

Pat and I take a 5 mile stroll along Pre's Trail. Not as many tattoos out here: not at 8 minute pace, anyway.

The meet organizers gave up some great Dry-Fit polos to wear this year. Never enough DF for me.

Another gem for my wardrobe...

Friday afternoon, sun is warm. A fellow official, noticing a very large female Chinese shotputter near the equipment building, says to her, "Beautiful day today!"

She replies, "Thank you very much."  In perfect English, no less.

I love track.

China also sent a high jumper and pole vaulter. Never seen an Asian vaulter before. Times are changing.

Friday night, men's 10,000m. Italy has a guy in the race, and he's easily the second-best looking guy on the track. By halfway, he had dropped back and was struggling. He needs to stop the suffering and call a modeling agency.

Hey Daniele, Calvin Klein wants you...

Saturday morning: I arrive early and start taking notes. Out on the warmup track, there's Kim Conley, who squeaked onto the Olympic team last year with a hellacious kick in the 5000m. Her Olympian status earned her tons of race invitations in Europe, and she has been making waves.

some guy with Kim Conley

Right before we walk out onto the track, I go make a final pit stop. There's a long line; hurry up, people. As I'm finishing up, I hear the national anthem. Oh no: I'M LATE!!!! We're supposed to be at our stations for the singing.

Relax, Campbell: the vocalist is merely warming up in the weight room. My cardiac patterns recover quickly.

The singer is a tiny, tiny woman with big pipes. And she doesn't have to force the high notes. There's an author who says you can run better if you inhale for three steps and exhale for two; maybe this singer is also a proponent.

I'm stationed in front of the men's pole vault; great competition. Brad Walker, American Record Holder is here. Not sure if he's more famous for his record jump or for the number of hairstyles he has worn.

Brad, Part 2
Brad, Part 2

Not Brad, but good hair...
Anyone remember House Party?

Blogging makes me crazy sometimes....

Also here is Renaud Lavillenie, Olympic Champion. He looks like actor Keith Gordon.

The actor-wannabe wins with 19'6", big jump. Every time he cleared a big height, he pumped his fists and celebrated. ON THE WAY DOWN! Very cool.

Party time on the ride down!
And his footwear: oh my. Lime-green neon with Velcro straps that look a lot like cycling shoes. Looks like he's thinking about riding the Tour de France in his spare time.

His shoes are louder than mine

 Women's 5000m: Olympic Trials foes Conley and Lucas are off the back in a hurry. Not hard to do with all the African gazelles in the race. I do the math and realize Conley is running steady, looking for a 15:18 that will qualify her for Worlds in Moscow. At 4k, she's at 12:13 with a solid shot. Then she blasts a 2:56 final kilometer to finish at 15:09, well under the standard. That's 10 seconds faster than she ran here last year, and a 5 second PR over her Olympic run.

Nice job! All she has to do now is place at Nationals without having to worry about setting the pace. Big load off her shoulders.

Men's High Jump: Skinny Guy Barshim from Qatar goes 7'10", highest jump anywhere in the last four years. Somebody please feed the boy; I can practically see his aorta. Then I notice he was born on 24 June; that was one of my favorite days in last year's Olympic Trials.

(the starting list that our head umpire distributes includes lane #s, country, personal/season bests, and date of birth). Then I do a search and find two guys in the 10,000m with the same birthday. A lot happened on 24 June, I imagine.

The Ethiopian kits are black shorts on hunter green singlets. Looks a lot like UO colors.

Women's 1500m: Kenya's Helen Obiri runs 3:58, fastest ever on American soil, and breaks Mary Decker Slaney's 1988 record. Mary was a beast of a runner, all five foot nothing of her. And to hold a distance record for 25 years?

NBC is televising live. How cool is that? NBC (me) on NBC! The network has these great self-leveling mobile cameras; the unit does not bounce as the cameraman walks along, so the picture is very stable.

Trivia: from where did this technology emerge?

Answer: Sylvester Stallone. No joke. When he ran up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps as Rocky, his crew had to develop a camera that wouldn't make viewers car-sick.

I have tons of useless trivia stuffed in my head. Other examples: I know the year the US Naval Academy was founded (1845), and I know how to start a nuclear reactor from cold wet layup without creating a radiation hazard.

Alex Trebek needs to call me.

Jamaica's Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce adds to her collection of two Olympic gold medals in the 100m, while Justin Gatlin wins the men's event. Sprinters have two muscle groups: quad and butt. Makes them run fast and walk funny.


I'm watching Florida runner Tony McQuay in the 400m. At the halfway mark, he's way behind everyone, so I write him off and start watching the battle up front. Turns out Tony was biding his time and later snuck into third place. Guess I need to pay closer attention.

High School Junior Mary Cain runs the 800m with the big girls, and doesn't do much except become the first prep runner ever to go sub-2:00! Girl has no fear; none. During the post-race interview, she says, "I really didn't think; I just ran like an animal!"

The crowd roared. You go, girl.

WR Holder and Olympic Champ Ashton Eaton and his Olympian fiancée Brianne do a ceremonial victory lap. I break from my stoic umpiring protocol and slap him five as he passes. I hope that outburst doesn't get me banned from the track.

Here's 2x Olympic winner Mo Farah for the men's 5000m. World-class goatee.

I mentioned the sprinters are all quad/glute. Mo has none of that, and no calf muscle either; just lots and lots of hamstring. Like cables.

Galen Rupp is here, too. The boy ran here at UO, then gets an Olympic silver medal right behind his buddy Mo. Galen's shorts are horribly wrinkled, but he gets the biggest ovation anyway.

Their coach Alberto Salazar is on the infield wearing a black and red outfit with a cool red webbed pattern. I think Spiderman is now designing Nike clothes.

Speaking of birthdays, Australian's Ryan Gregson was born on mine, but 25 years later. He honors me by running next to last in the Bowerman Mile.

A pleasant 130-mile drive home, only to return in three days for NCAA Championships.

Did I mention that I love track?