Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Talking Trials: The Olympic Trials represent everything that's right about Track and Field

Gabe Jennings leads the three eventual Olympians
through the 2008 Men's 1500 meter final
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
I'm not sure if you remember where you were in 2008 when the Olympic Trials returned to Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. I was in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina with my family of runners and ex-runners. We dug in like we do every July when the Tour de France is on. Two weeks earlier, I had run a scintillating 20:18 5k at the Run for the Cure in Raleigh, and,at almost 30 years old, was slowly starting to get interested again in the sport that I lived and breathed in high school. The next week and a half would be the launching pad for what has inspired most of the words on this blog today.

From the first day, I was hooked. I had followed distance running even after my days of competing were over, but this would be the first meet I was truly excited about in some time. To fuel the fire even more, my cousins had recently shown me and more importantly, the "World Famous Message Boards." It was all downhill from there. I remembered guys like Gabe Jennings and Alan Webb, but there would be many new faces.

On day one, I got to watch former Tar Heel, Shalane Flanagan, win the 10,000 and then got to watch Amy Yoder-Begley outrun the clock to hit the Olympic A Standard. The crowd roared as she clipped off the last few laps and came in 1.4 seconds under the mark to greet her then-teammate, Kara Goucher, and grab the flag and book her ticket to Beijing. A moment like this could happen again as soon as this Friday night, with both the Men's and Women's 10,000 Finals kicking the distance events off. I loved every second of it. It would only get better from there.

This is the second in a a series of articles
that will highlight the 2012 Olympic Trials;
aptly called "Talking Trials"
A few days later, the race of the trials would take place; the Men's 800 (video here). I probably watched this race 10 times that night and have probably watched it 20-30 times since. It really doesn't get any better. That kind of drama was as good as it gets. Christian Smith gets into the 800 only because Alan Webb scratches, opening up the last spot. He navigates through the heats and then runs the race of his life to take third place, in a falling dive, and hits the Olympic A Standard, securing his trip to China. In doing so, he helps complete an Oregon sweep of the podium, with the Oregon Track Club's Nick Symmonds taking the win and the University of Oregon's phenom, Andrew Wheating, rallying late for second. That race will be run again this Monday night. Can it live up to that hype? With the field assembled, it's certainly possible.

With all the talk that track "needs to find it's audience," this is an event where the audience will be captivated, knowledgeable, and won't need much cajoling. In 2008, it inspired me to go from a sometimes jogger to a three time Boston Marathon Qualifier and to run some pretty decent times in the process (for a hobby jogger). It also inspired me to write this blog and to get active in the sport I love. I've attended the Prefontaine Classic the last two years, the 2012 Marathon Trials in Houston and multiple other meets that have been great. This is the granddaddy of them all. I hope many others can get inspired the way I have. I can't wait to get back to Eugene and take it in firsthand. 

Follow along on television (all times Eastern):

Friday, June 22 NBCSN 9:00 p.m. (10,000 Finals)
Saturday, June 23 NBC 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 24 NBC 7:00 p.m.
Monday, June 25 NBCSN 9:00 p.m. (800 Finals)
Thursday, June 28 NBCSN 9:00 p.m. (5000 Finals & Men's Steeplechase Final)
Friday, June 29 NBCSN 6:00 p.m. (Women's Steeplechase Final)
Saturday, June 30 NBC 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 1 NBC 7:00 p.m. (1500 Finals)

Follow writing about running on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Support the site and start here when you shop on

No comments:

Post a Comment