Fireworks went off during most of the running of the men's 10K final on July 4.
July 11, 2008
The 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials was my third consecutive meet to what I consider to be the "best track meet in the world." The city of Eugene (Oregon) did a wonderful job of hosting the meet and added several new things that Sacramento had not done in 2000 or 2004. The overall feel was much different due to the smaller, but more enthusiastic, host city. The stadium was packed every session and the competition schedule allowed for some amazing competitions everyday. How often do you get to witness multiple American and National High School records broken in the same meet...even the same race?!?!? The men's 100-meter semi-finals provided that unique treat. If memory serves me correctly, I believe it was four American records and two National High School records that fell.
Some of the highlights:
~The women's 10K third-placer, Amy Yoder-Begley, having to run sub 1:45 (600m) and sub :70 on the last lap to reach the Olympic `A' standard and secure her berth on the Olympic team.
~Tyson Gay almost not making it out of the 100m prelims because he started slowing down before the finish line.
~Tyson Gay setting the American Record at 9.77 the next day in the semis.
~Tyson Gay running faster than any human ever had for 100 meters in any conditions....his 9.68 did not count as a world record due to too much wind at his back.
~Track Town Pizza...this place is a must stop with all of the track décor on its walls and pizzas named after track events.
~Three guys (Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating, and Christian Smith) who all train in Oregon made the Olympic team at 800 meters. The crowd went wild. Smith actually wasn't in the meet until days before the race when Alan Webb scratched and he paid a $250 appeals fee!
~Alton Baker Park...incredible running trails full of people running and working out daily.
~July 4th at the Trials....Kara Goucher out-running Jen Rhines and 10K champ Shalane Flanagan to the finish line and fireworks going off from the mid-point of the men's 10K final until the finish.
~Oregon Coast at the city of Florence...see the pics.
~My four-hour drive through the Oregon mountains on two lane roads to Klamath Falls and back on July 2nd. Breathtaking views and winding roads. I HIGHLY suggest you only drive this during the daytime.
~Hanging out with Meb (2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist for the U.S.) on the afternoon of the 4th before the 10K final. My Trials roommate, Chris Rogers, set this up and he and Meb are good friends. Meb ran this race on only seven weeks of training due to recovering from an injury, and still ran very fast. This visit took place at the ranch of John Jacqua, who brokered the deal between Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman to officially form Nike. Bowerman's ranch was next door.
~Texting splits of every distance race (800 and above, every round) to my distance runners who were not able to attend the meet, but enthralled by the races as much or more than I was and couldn't wait for the TV coverage each night. I have to get better at texting by the next Trials so I can actually see more of the races!
What a Trials!!! If you've never been, I suggest you go. Eugene hosts again in 2012 and I'm sure they will look to do it even better. While I'm sure the serenity and majesty of the Olympics is a special sight to behold, the U.S. Trials are the best track meet in the world every four years. That is just one guys view.