Saturday, July 9, 2016

Olympic Trials - Day 7

Just an ordinary day at the long as your track is somewhere other than Eugene, Oregon. The track here was on ye shall soon learn.

Last night, as we were disbanding for the evening, we were told we had to oversee an 'extra' event at 0730 Saturday.

Strange: the Trials schedule is set months in advance, and it's not like there's a lot of improvising going on.

No, the support groups decided they wanted to run a 4 x 200m relay. The organizing team, the timing crew, the video judging folks, a butt-ton of interns, etc...Great, except I planned on swimming at 0730. Had I known with more notice, i could have adjusted my workout schedule. Oh well...

This morning, it was POURING. And the security gates weren't open. And none of the starters were  notified....I swear, if this group decides to cancel now....

A 4 x 200 alley start, a one turn stagger, 14 teams...yes, it's amateur hour. I won't go into more detail. In a sheer and blatant act of defiance, I climb onto the backstretch bleacher wall and sit there with my legs dangling, a clear breach of Hayward Field protocol. Funny, I don't care much...At least it finally stopped raining, and the race wasn't more than 3 minutes long.

Heck, my back is tight this morning, so maybe today's workout will simply be some stretching.

Dinner tonite?

Carson Hall dining room
Not sure what I'll do for dinner: some folks are going out. I'll see how I feel later.

Before the women's heptathlon, I swing by the Nike retail tent to do some window shopping. $30 for a regular t-shirt....not horrible, I guess it could be worse.

Remember my tight back? After the 100m hurdles, I stroll up to the medical tent. There were no athletes around, but lots of physical therapists. I treat myself to a 45 minute free massage courtesy of a powerlifter....ah!!!

Looks like the rain might actually hold off for the afternoon. And the winds are light. That's always good.

All that precipitation sure does make things green around here...

The line to get thru Security...

The line below (on the right) is for important people with me.

I love track.

National Anthem, courtesy of some American Idol contestant. What does "land of the fray" mean?

Before the events begin, I'm standing next to a national official who is several levels of importance above me. We are prohibited from using electronic devices on the track during meets. He looks at the full stadium, then grins and says, "the meet hasn't started yet." And he starts snapping pictures.

That's good enough for me!

Bowerman Balcony

Record capacity today
Standing room only

East Grandstands

Just sayin'
 Yesterday, I mentioned that Fred Newhouse and Herman Frazier were on the winning 4 x 400m relay at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Here's Mr. Frazier...


He said they ran 2:58 on a rainy day: that's a 44.5 average split. 40 years ago...those guys had serious wheels. 

As the high hurdlers are in the blocks, Ishmael the marshal asks the people on the Bowerman balcony to be quiet. Even that frizzy-haired old guy in the UO ballcap...yes, this means you, Phil Knight. 

Hurdler Ryan Fontenot has your typical sprinter's build: densely muscular, strapping. And the most un-strapping baby face.

The TV production trailer has a guy who signals the starter to begin each race. I assumed that the producer is also the person who gives orders to the cameraman who get in the face of the runners before each start. Nope; two different producers, two different agendas, and either person can hold up the race. Are you kidding me? Tonite, the TV scheduling producer gave the green light to start the race, but the camera man was rooted in lane 4 and wouldn't budge. Meanwhile, the two producers cuss up a storm at each other, all just to see exactly whose is bigger.

The men's 5000m starts slow. How slow? After two laps, the leader turned to say something to the other guys, and then started laughing. In an Olympic Trials final!!!

Rupp takes off with maybe a mile left and gets 20 yards on the field. Why did they let him go?

Answer: because they knew they'd catch him with 300m left. And Bernard Lagat, 157 year old Bernard Lagat, is hanging on for dear life. He's a crowd favorite here, and received an enormous ovation on the starting line. He is a ridiculous longshot to make the team, not with all the young legs in this race.

Except everyone else chases Rupp down, with Lagat sitting in and letting the kids do the heavy lifting. Down the final backstretch, Lagat tightens up the gap...halfway thru the last turn, he moves into third with room to spare. I think, awesome..he's on the team.

He's not done. The man has always had a good kick, but lately the youngsters have run it out of him with a hard pace. Not tonite; he hits the jets, showing the best sprint eyes in the business.
Lagat Eyes
The eyes are typical. What isn't typical? He's running right at me, and I swear it looks like he's about to start bawling when he hits the front. And he still has 50 meters to run!!!

At this point, neutral umpire decorum goes out the window. I'm screaming...but no one can hear me because the stadium has gone nuclear, and no one is looking at me anyway.

Just perfect tactics, as usual. He had something extra tonite. After the finish, he was giddy like a 10 year old at Christmas.

Did I mention that Lagat is 197 years old?

Chills. Just chills.


Taking a huge 4th and barely missing a spot on the team was Eric Jenkins, a 2015 UO grad. He stuck his nose in there and hung with the big boys, showing incredible guts. I think he just cemented his running sponsorship for the next 5 years.

Wow. Still hyperventilating  (me, not Lagat).

200m final: the two high schoolers runs a very close 4th and 5th. These kids today: no respect for their elders.

110 hurdles: during introductions, the video screen very briefly shows an anatomical view of the human body, highlighted by two red pulsing kidneys. Aries Merritt won World Championship bronze last year, 4 days before a kidney transplant...

I note that 2008 Trials champ David Oliver was a no-show, and I jot a note that UO's Devon Allen now has a better shot at making the team.

I'll say. He scorches a 13.03, huge PR, and wins by daylight. Merritt misses third by a whisker.

Winner's protocol is thus: you pump your arms, shake hands with competitors, then wave your little flag respectfully. Devon didn't get the memo...he stops, looks into the stands, then VAULTS over the fence and gives his dad an enormous hug. Devon had a tough childhood, broken family, little money, but God gave him wheels and no fear, which is what an Olympic hurdler needs.

A trip up to the press box at the end of the day...

A few shots of Olympian Devon Allen...

The back of his head to the right of the green striped shirt

A little better

About as close as I could get
In the media tent, someone was getting interviewed...not sure who. I just liked the rugby scrum vibe...

Justin Gatlin climbing the stage...

LaShawn Merritt...

200m 3rd place Ameer Webb, followed by sprinter emeritus Darvis 'Doc' Patton

Mr. Allen with Jody, TrackTown meet organizer...

I'm an awesome photographer...

Veronica, Tracktown troubleshooter and babysitter of officials...

Oh, I forgot: KISS is at Matthew Knight Arena tonite. Figures!

I need my rest.

And I love track!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6


  1. Nick, really enjoying your blog. Two of your USA classmates here as well cheering you on.
    Chris (Keller) Hart and Duncan Hart

    1. y'all picked a good meet to attend! Sorry we didn't catch up in person.

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