Track Town, USA: If you were bored with yesterday’s behind-the-scene photos, you are really not going to like today’s photos of how Track Town 12 appears before a deluge of fans descend. Or how it looks before buckets of rain deluge the fans. DT was up and out the door before 7a so he could oversee the men’s race walk at Historic Hayward Field. This race is held on the track. The “walkers” oval the track again and again and again to cover 20 kilometers. Why isn’t such a long race held on the roads or streets? Because it is so easy to cheat (run instead of walk really fast) during this sport, the athletes must be watched at every step.
I hate this sport and feel it has no part in track and field. I want it to go away, and go away with synchronized swimming, gymnastics, boxing, ice skating and any other sport that must be judged. The purity of The One True Sport is that the winners are the fastest. The highest. The longest. Judged sports do not belong in the Olympic Games.
There. I said it.
Now, back to our usual program…
It would be impossible to hold an event of this size and complication without an army of volunteers and officials. Hundreds upon hundreds. And they need fuel to work.
I hope you were not planning to play tennis at the University of Oregon this week. The covered tennis courts adjacent to Historic Hayward Field have been repurposed as the world’s largest buffet. Three meals a day. Food from 7a to two hours after the meet is over each day for the army of volunteers and staff required to run the 2012 Olympic Track & Field trials.
A virtual sea of dining tables. The catering for this event is provided by M Catering, from Phoenix. This company does huge events – like golf tournaments – all over the country. Their food is spectacular. In our hospitality suite this week, M Catering has provided lobster ceviche, cheese tortellini with wild mushrooms, grilled romaine with parmesan, brie cheese with honey comb and marcona almonds, crab cakes, grilled shrimp skewers, roast duck breast, grass-fed beef sliders, pulled-pork sliders, orecchiette pasta and caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes. And don’t forget the platters of cakes, cookies, brownies, puddings and other sweets. This is just a bit of what I can recall from the top of my head – it’s been a very long week.
Yes, the food has been over-the-top and the workers (from Phoenix and hired locally) have gone out of their way to accommodate the volunteers and track fans. M Catering has also worked with Dave’s committee to ensure this track meet sends practically nothing to the landfill. Every plate used has to be compostable. The knives and forks are made from potatoes. The glasses are made from corn. A parking lot across from the track has been turned into a massive catering kitchen and several satellite kitchens are set-up within the venue. It virtually takes an army to feed this army.
Here is another shot of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria before thousands of track fans descend. Also please note the trash cans at the bottom right of the photo. This is Oregon – we recycle everything.
Inside the Safeway tent, track fans can ride a hamster wheel to provide electricity that is actually used to power this track meet!
The Track Town 12 stage is the focal-point of the fan festival. Live music starts two hours before the first track event and continues until two or three hours after the track meet is over. While the meet itself is happening, the races are broadcast live on the two giant TV screens on either side of the stage. This area is free – no ticket is required to enter the fan festival. (You only need a ticket to enter the stadium.) Hundreds and hundreds of people come every day – even in the rain – to watch the meet on the screens, drink a few beers, listen to the music and hang-out with friends. The green soccer field is filled with people every day!
Historic Hayward Field – before 20,000+ fans fill the stadium.
Though obviously a lot of thought has gone into providing for the volunteers and ensuring for an awesome fan experience, the number one consideration of Track Town 12 is the athlete. The athletes come first. Their housing comes first. Their transportation comes first. Their meals come first. Their medical needs and massages/icing come first. During the Olympic Trials, athletes are provided another track (at a nearby community college) as a practice facility. Athlete-only shuttles whisk athletes from their dorms/hotels back and forth constantly to the practice track or Historic Hayward Field.
Because without athletes, these bleachers would remain empty.
This is one of the buses used to transport athletes and their families about town. Funny thing, Miss Allyson Felix (pictured on the bus above) made it to London this evening in less than 22 seconds, breaking the 200m meet record set here in 1988 by Flo-Jo. It seems likely Miss Felix will race the 200m, 4x100 relay and 4x400m relay for America at the 2012 Olympics.
DT isn’t the only one with something to organize. I have practically had to use a flow-chart to handle the one lone hotel room we had booked for our guests during the trials – conveniently located just across the street from campus. Brother Steve used it the first four nights, then we had the room prepared for Lisa, Lenny & Leo (complete with crib), then readied again for my sister, Renee and our niece, Carla. We had to make sure we had event tickets and hospitality passes for our guests. I should have been a choreographer!
This is the little hospitality area where DT and I hang out. (Daily hospitality is provided with the ticket package we purchased.) It is out of the rain and is catered by M Catering – along with plenty of beer and wine – and is right next to the stage so we can enjoy the music.
Terry, Nellie & Renee – photo by Carla
Carla and Renee arrived this evening (after spending the day with Baby Leo in Portland), just as the meet ended and the party started. Here we are posing with one of our old friends, Ron Nelson. Renee and Carla have arrived for one of the best days of track and field – the last day of the US trials. Women’s javelin and long jump, men’s and women’s 400m hurdles and then the event I am nearly dizzy over – the men’s & women’s 1500m finals – and the last event is the men’s 200m final. Fast and furious Sunday afternoon in Eugene.
It’s going to be epic – and it is on television, so check-it out!
I will leave you with one last photo – of Baby Leo having brunch with my sister and niece in Portland this morning:
Cutest Baby Ever.
Until my next update – my last from the 2012 Olympic Trials – I remain, your organized correspondent.