A Stern Look: Eugene Day 1
I’m intern Ryan. You may know me from a brief cameo in a Run Junkie episode, if not, we’ll get to know each other very intimately over the next twelve days, as Flotrack has asked me to blog about my Trials experience. I’ll be doing my best to capture the day-to-day here in Eugene, all of the shenaniganz that happened that day, and any other juicy tidbit I find remotely interesting.
Right now I’m sitting in my underwear in someone’s living room two blocks away from Hayward Field, writing this first blog post, trying to figure out how to cram everything that happened yesterday into something intelligible. This first post, and I assume every other, is going to consist of a lot of name dropping and finding myself in situations that I have no business being in (i.e. behind the scenes with Flotrack at the Olympic Trials). So hold on to your hats, because we’re walking this Trials road together.
My Oregon trip began with me sitting in the back seat of Jason Vigilante’s rental car, Robby Andrews riding shotgun as we barreled down the Oregon interstate in a very aggressive east coast fashion. The day before I was thinking I’d probably be travelling from Portland to Track Town via an overpriced shuttle bus, pressed up to the window by the fat man next to me. But some handy work by America’s sweetheart, Ryan Fenton, proved to be fruitful, because instead I was in the presence of an Olympic hopeful and his coach. I had to sit on my hands I was so giddy.
It only took twenty minutes of driving before we made our first stop. A trip to a local outlet mall that consisted of getting Vig a new pair of shoes, eating some Mexican food and walking around the adidas store (where no one in the joint knew that an adidas athlete was walking among them). After our brief detour we were back on the road, where I eavesdropped on phone conversations with Alan Webb, and listened Robby and Vig talk shop about the upcoming week. Soon thereafter I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were rolling into the parking lot of South Eugene High.
Robby was going to be doing an easy run, and I figured I could probably hang for a little bit, so we changed in the parking lot and plodded over to the track. Our timing was unrivaled, as Alex Kosinski was getting ready to do a workout when we rolled up. Names were exchanged, and I sheepishly waved at Alex before Robby and I ambled off on to Amazon trail. Robby is a cool dude, conversation was easy and the run included a cameo from Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson.
We finished up back on South Eugene Track where I did a few strides with Robby and watched as he did hurdle drills. When all was said and done we walked back to the car, got yelled at by a homeless person and headed down to the Flotrack house. Vig dropped me off outside, I offered my sincere thanks for everything the pair had done for me, wished Robby good luck, and watched as they rode their Hyundai off into the sunset.
The house they rented out for our stay is a stone’s throw from the track; I could literally walk out on to the porch and hurl a rock at security guard manning the gate. This place was also only two blocks away from the Brooks Frat House, which is a real Frat house where Brooks has set up shop for the week. I walked down there to meet Alex and Ryan and the house was buzzing. Outside, a bunch of frat kids were mulling around while a painting and cleaning crew were inside patching and vacuuming away a year’s worth of debauchery and questionable decision making. Upon entering we received the grand tour, saw all the gift bags that were going to be handed out to the Brooks athletes and observed the newly sanitized facilities, which still smelled a bit like stale beer and shame.
When we were finished with the Brooks tour, all of the Flotrack guys (Alex, Fenton, Selby, Kevin Liao, Ray and myself) went out to dinner at a place called The Mission, where I muscled my way through my second round of Mexican food. After dinner we attempted to get into Hayward Field but were threatened with the dogs if we entered the premises.
I’ve never been to Hayward, but just being on the outside, fingers laced in between the fence, sun setting on the “Road to London” sign strung up on the grandstand, I felt bit overwhelmed. Maybe it was the ghost of Prefontaine. Perhaps it was standing outside the place where Olympic dreams come true. Or it could have been good ol’ fashioned American Pride. Either way, there was a certain type of magic that accompanied Hayward field that I aim to get to the bottom of before our trip is over.
I finished the day curled up on an air mattress, teeming with excitement at the things to come. Right now Eugene is bustling, athletes are flying in from all over the country, track and field is in the air, and Fenton won’t stop screaming that One Direction song. Yesterday was only day one, and it was like Christmas morning. I think this is a good sign.