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2021 NCAA: Day 1

TrackTown, USA: We left Canyonville by ten o'clock and only needed to drive 100 miles to reach our final destination - Eugene, Oregon (aka TrackTown USA). Eugene will be our home for most of June, as we will attend the NCAA Track & Field Championships, and the next week, we will watch the US Olympic Track & Field Trials. (RV servicing and repairs scheduled for the off-days - try to remain excited). Twelve days of watching athletes turn left on a track, people! Even for us, this is a lot of track and field.

If you have not heard, the University of Oregon has recently completed a total renovation/rebuild of their track stadium and training facility. To say it is the best track stadium in America is an understatement. The new Hayward Field is phenomenal. The on-line photos (and obviously my photos) will not do it justice. Dave and I have been promised a tour, so check-back over the next week or so.

The new track was built on basically the same footprint of the old track (with very little expansion). Hayward Field began as the football field, built one hundred years ago. Times have changed! Bill Hayward would be amazed at what his name-sake stadium is today:

As we entered the stadium for the first time, I was nearly (okay, I was) brought to tears. This project has been on-going for years! To see it finally completed and hosting two huge events was overwhelming. As we proceeded to our seats, we were spotted by the University of Oregon Athletic Director, Rob Mullens, and invited into the Athletic Department's skybox. So interesting to see the unique decor and subtle homages to past Oregon track & field athletes in the suite. So much to explore in the new Hayward Field.

Even the bathrooms have art work! Along the concourse behind the seating, there are televisions broadcasting the events live.

Due to the global pandemic, event tickets were issued to phones only. I am estimating the stadium was allowed at ~30% capacity? Nearly every seat was designated for vaccinated (proof required) fans, and masks were required. If fans were not vaccinated, they were sent-off to top-tier seats and socially-distanced. I am estimating these sections were filled to about twenty percent capacity.

Also, with COVID-19 protocols, concession stands were operated via an app... which required downloading an app, signing up, giving your phone number, receiving a text message with a confirmation code, giving a credit card... yada... yada... yada. Let's just say, it took 20 minutes for me to order two bottles of $4 water. Hayward Field is selling beer at the NCAA meet.

Coors Light.

There were two food booths behind our seating section. Closed today, Ashton Eatins (a play-on-words) for The World's Greatest Athlete, Oregon's own Ashton Eaton (NCAA, Olympic, World-Champion, World-Record-Holder, well... basically everything). If you think this restaurant kiosk name is cute, how about this one:

Another clever play-on-words for Oregon sprinter English Gardner. Ho hum... yet another Duck with a gold medal.

It was a good first day for the male athletes (this meet is leap-frogged male-female over four days). Though rain was not predicted, it poured for a good hour during the meet. (Not fun and we were very under-dressed for the weather.) The Duck men faced a few shortfalls, but who knows what can happen over the next days? As I always tell My Driver: they are just kids, but as a former college distance runner, David doesn't always agree with my assertation. Here are the results of the men's Day One competition.

Dave and I met-up with his college roommate and wife (Bruce and Lisa from Riverside, California - their daughter, Sierra is just finishing her freshman year at Oregon) and also saw two of my college roommates, and so many teammates and friends, plus past TrackTown colleagues from when Dave volunteered to organize the Olympic Trials in 2012 and 2016, and the World Indoor Championships in 2017. Most everyone had not seen each other for nearly two years! It is going to a great June!

My sister sewed Duck masks for us. Perfect attire for Duck fans at this track meet. Thank you, Renee! We had so many compliments. Still, I was constantly amazed that anyone could even recognize us with covered faces.

Exiting the stadium, after the men's 10000m, we paused to gaze at the amazing Bowerman Tower. This structure (which we will visit soon) is a museum to Oregon Athletics. We can't wait to get inside this tower!

One last parting shot of (the new and improved) Historic Hayward Field.

We came back to the bus and I prepared our usual cocktail tidbit plate (olives, cheese, nuts, crackers) for our 9p dinner. It has been quite some time since we have been so cold and so soaked with rain. Rain-gear shopping is on our agenda tomorrow.

Until my next update, I remain, your GO DUCKS correspondent.

RV PARK: Premier RV Resort. Full service 50 amp pull-through and pull-in sites. On-site store, swimming pool and spa (in season), weekend breakfasts, tipis for rent, dog wash station, dog parks. We paid $61 per night.

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