Monday, July 7, 2008

The party's over...


EUGENE--As I sit in bed at the apartment outside Autzen Stadium that I've called home for the last two weeks, it's time to reflect on my stay here in Track Town, USA.

For many of the athletes, media, coaches, officials, and fans, Sunday night was a night to blow off some steam and celebrate ten days of the greatest track & field national championship meet in the world.

Our adventure Sunday night after the meet began by watching a bunch of runners compete in a "beer mile" where the objective is to run four laps while downing a 12-ounce beer before starting the next lap.

After that, the next stop was the Villard Street Pub, which was the unofficial headquarters of the Olympic Trials.

There was a who's who of track & field gathered at the Villard Street Pub, including letsrun.com's BroJos (Weldon & Robert Johnson); American Track & Field publisher Larry Eder; Olympians Lopez Lomong and Nick Symmonds, super track agent Mark Wetmore; and, a host of athletes, coaches, and hangers-on.

The process of cleaning up the area around Hayward Field begins today, including breaking down the temporary bleachers that expanded the capacity of America's greatest track stadium to 16,500 (no matter what the local organizing committee may say about 20000-plus attendance every day), removing the tents that housed the various displays, and removing the two temporary jumbotron television screens.

In a few days, the area around 15th and Agate will revert back to just another part of the University of Oregon campus.

But for ten days, America and the world saw the best of track and field.

We saw that yes, you can live and achieve the American dream through this sport, as immigrants Bernard Lagat, Leo Manzano, and Lopez Lomong did in the climactic men's 1500 meter run Sunday.

For once, the focus was steered away from the drug issues that have clouded the sport, and towards athletes scratching, clawing, and throwing their bodies onto the finish line, with Olympic team berths at stake.

We thank the cities of Eugene and Springfield, along with the University of Oregon for their hospitality this last week and a half.

The Toyota Corrolla is pointed north towards Seattle. We'll be home soon.

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