June 28, 2012

The Olympic Trials in Eugene!

While doing research on what to see and do in Eugene I stumbled on an amazing fact...the 2012 US Olympic Trials were not only going on in Eugene, but they would be going on the same time we'd planned to be in the city! The trials are awesome for so many reasons: a visit to any of the events is all the inspiration I need to get out there and do some exercise myself; the atmosphere among the fans and athletes is super exciting, full of energy; you get to see/possibly meet world class athletes, and share the air with them; and finally, we know one of the competing athletes, Wallace Spearmon, we went to school with him! I even tried to sign up to be a volunteer at the trials, but I think it was too late, and I'm sure five million other folks like me wanted to be there.

Wallace, on one of the track posters at the trials
We also had another pleasant surprise when visiting Eugene; another small high school reunion. I spotted a status update on Facebook of one of our schoolmates Katie Howard, that she was also in Eugene for the trials. She and a co-worker of hers had bought tickets to the trials. After several messages we met up at the Saturday Market, one of Eugene's weekly staples. After the market, the three of us went for a great hike at the Spencer Butte park. This was a very nice trail to the top of a hill, with awesome overlooks of Eugene and its surrounding farmlands. 

At the Saturday Market
Meeting up with Katie at the Market
Hiking Spencer Butte
Views from the top of the Spencer Butte Trail
We spent most of our time in Eugene visiting the trials. Hayward Field is where all the magic was going down, and the cheapest tickets were just over $40. There was a free fan festival set up along the perimeter of the track on the outside, with food vendors, samples, beer gardens and big screen TVs to watch the trials live. Several of the days I think we actually had the better seats, as it was on and off again raining, and the cheapest seats in the track were not covered, while the free fan section had umbrellas and tents from where you could watch the TVs. 

Eugene: tracktown USA!
Sky goofing around in the fan tents
Watching the big screens at the Fan Festival
Katie works for one of the sports apparel companies sponsoring the Olympics. She knew a lot of the folks in town for the trials, representing their affiliated companies, and so was in the know on the cool after hours events happening around town. She invited us along to a Brooks shoes company party, and then we all meandered over to the Saucony party. Nerdy me kept looking for athletes in the crowd, I was in a bit of a celebrity craze. :o)

At the Saucony party with Katie
We also got hooked up the last day we were in town, when Katie called us up to say she had two tickets to the trials! We jumped right on it, and it turned out the seats where in the covered section! We got to see the men's and women's 800m finals, as well as the 5k qualifying heats. The atmosphere inside the track was way more intense. Seeing the athletes up close was so exciting. 

The 800m ladies dash by
5k men
Victory lap for the men's 800m winners
The craziest part was after the trials ended that day, and we all left the track to go eat dinner together. As we were walking along the streets back to our cars, I saw several of the athletes that had just competed and placed in their events walk by. And then we saw two of them sit down at the restaurant that we'd picked for dinner. It was so surreal to see such talent leading a normal life, right along ours. 

To see more pictures of Eugene and the trials, click here.

Happy Olympic Trials Watching!


Email me

No comments:

Post a Comment