A little later, more sights from the dining hall:
(that's Czech Republic)
Had to include the shot above, as an homage to my place of employment: this is Tom M, a world-renowned starter of track events (think starter's pistol). I saw him at breakfast and had to ask....
Seems he, a born and bred Boston lad, was in Eugene years ago for a meet and ended up in a pub near 13th and Kincaid, probably ordering a 'paw-tah' (translation: Black Butte Porter). The barkeep, noting the bloodlines of a long suffering Red Sox fan, promptly comped him a shirt. I shall have to buy him a pint...Tom was also the finish line marshal for the Boston Marathon on the day of the bombing.
I think I'll have to buy him TWO pints...
Who else do I see in Eugene? Burke Selbst, a physical therapist from Bend (and fellow Jersey boy). Burke worked at the 2012 Olympic Trials here, and is now on the short list for major US championships.
Here's Ian Dobson, Olympic Trials finalist (and possibly the slowest person in his family if you count his wife, Julia Lucas).
Among other things, he's now a coach and is heavily involved in the Eugene Marathon and Half Marathon; I asked him to spot me a couple of minutes during the race as a favor.
He's probably 6'4", so how am I taller in that picture?
In the decathlon, there is American Harrison Williams. The kid is so good, he already had a train station named after him.
(ok, so it was the other Harrison Williams: the NJ senator who was convicted of taking bribes and sentenced to prison. The Amtrak station in Edison NJ was named after him, then renamed after he was sent to Club Fed).
The events are in full swing, and the bleachers are raucous. Which means, of course: vuvuzelas. Lots and lots of them.
God help me.
In the 1500m heats, brave John Aquino from the island of Guam finishes 30 seconds behind the winner, yet still kicks home proudly. YOU try training in Agana's South Pacific humidity.
And now, some track and field math:
5 + 2 = ?
3 + 3 = ?
In both cases, the answer is 12.
If a final will have 12 runners, each of the two semi-finals will have the top 5 in each heat as automatic qualifiers, plus the next two fastest (12 total). If there are three heats that will narrow down to a 12-person final, the first three in each heat will automatically advance, in addition to the next three fastest (also 12).
And you wondered why runners are so smart; with this kind of convoluted arithmetic, it's because they HAVE to be.
Leaving the dorm just prior to the evening events, this is what I see in the lobby:
College kids are the same all the world 'round.
A girl from Sverige (Sweden) fails to clear a height in the high jump and spends the next 10 minutes sobbing on the ground next to her coach. One of her teammates misses at the next height and simply shrugs her shoulders.
In the last sprint heat, there's a kid from the Cook Islands: those islands are named after Capt James Cook of the British ship Endeavor, who also discovered Australia's Great Barrier Reef by running into it. Great explorer and lousy navigator...
The university's brass ensemble plays for the opening ceremony, then stays on the field to help out during the 10,000m. Runners in any event longer than one lap are routinely treated to a rhythmic clapping on the home stretch, and tonite the band plays a 30 minute composition that adds a whole lot of bass drum when the leader finishes each lap. Very cool.
Two Japanese runners lead out the 10,000 and build a huge lead at the halfway point in 14:35. Then the trailing 8-man African Train dumps coal in the engine and closes the 100m gap in less than one mile! Holy cow, these guys were bringing it....a lot of 67 second laps with some 64's thrown in, the winner runs a 4:15 last mile and looks like he had more in the tank.
A girl from Ecuador was DQ'd in the 100 for a false start. For the life of me, I couldn't see it on the replay. Her protest was upheld, so she was allowed to run a solo heat at the end of the night. One runner in eight lanes, and 11.77 gets her into the next round.
For that final event, the crowd pulled her home in 11.28, fastest qualifier. Sometimes it's good to question authority.
Oh, and I wrote her up for a lane violation, but I was overruled. We were all a bit punchy by then.
I love track.