Eugene in a Hard Day’s Night

 

I am off heading to the airport—plenty of time—what could possibly go awry? Well, of course, I never expect things to go perfectly, and it’s a good thing as I was delayed on the runway for two hours, and then we were gone into the air into the night.

 

I am flying direct. The plan is to catch an Uber ride to Eugene on arrival, and that almost worked to perfection, but I did hit a few bumps in the road. I arrived at the destination garage in a quiet neighborhood a short walk from Hayward at 4 A.M. local time.

 

Take a deep breath. You made it. Finally, parked in the converted garage, brush your teeth, and hit the feathers.

 

I woke up ready for anything, settled for a short jog, a stop for supplies, and a walk back to the garage bungalow to get organized. Shortly after, I had a visit from old friends and Eugene residents Dina and Nancy, and there were a few housewarming libations, which are always a pleasure.

 

I received my ticket for today’s action from my mysterious supplier, Ken, socked it away in my wallet, and headed off for my short walk to the arena, which is like the Empire State Building rising out of the U of O.

 

Bumped into a few old friends on the way in—Matt Centro Sr., always a pleasure, and Tommy Ratcliffe, whose son Thomas will compete in the 5K.

 

After a bit of chit-chat, I settle into my seat in section 219, just above and behind the finish line. I’m ready for all the action. I enjoy watching the opening rounds, the strategy playing out, and the heartbreak of just nearly missing moving on to the next round—one who ran a courageous race in her heat of the 5K last time around, Abbey Cooper, finished 7th in her heat, the second of two in a stupid slow race and mad dash for the finish.

 

 

Abbey is an athlete on the far end of the spectrum, already a past Olympian but burning through the remaining fire for our sport until that terrible day when you are done.

 

On the front end of that spectrum, Parker Valby led the first heat until the last lap when Ellie St Pierre cruised by to take it.

 

Ellie looks to be at the peak of perfection in her career, and for Parker, it has been a long season. Having read about her training methods, including many days of cross—training, I wonder if they will be enough to see her through and not only get her to Paris but also to perform to satisfaction.

 

The M 1500 heats were tight. Cole Hocker looked in control, leading the way in his heat in a blanket finish, his mate Cooper Teare right in that mix. Nuguse is so smooth, like butter, and one of the pretty runners. I’m very much looking forward to his future races.

All Results: https://olympics.com/en/news/usa-olympic-team-trials-2024-track-field-all-results-complete-list

 

Sha ‘ Carri had a Heart attack when she misstepped her way out of the blocks in her first round. As great as she is looking, her start could be much improved.

Sha’Carri stumbles and recovers, winning in 10.88, heat 1, W100m, photo by Chuck Aragon.

 

M 10K Final was a foregone conclusion, but I suppose you never know, regardless of its predictability.

 

Conner Mantz, our marathon representative and trials winner—never shy—led a long way, but ultimately, the pace slowed until Grant Fisher closed strong with Woody and Nico Young—the only three with the necessary sub-27 time—taking the top honors.

 

At the conclusion of the 10K, I joined the crowd, who were filing out of Hayward, and stumbled on my way home to the bungalow. I set my alarm for 7 A.M., hoping to be rested and ready for Saturday’s “Brewnelli” 5K run in recognition of our friend and a friend of our sport, “T&F Garage” Fanelli.

 

Up and at’em, coffee and a bagel in hand, I join the group headed to the run along a beautiful stretch of the Willamette River, including a pedestrian bridge over it. The day dawned perfectly in the big Oregon environment—the outsized trees hanging in the mist and the signature huge pines scraping the sky—ya, a good day to be alive.

 

To begin festivities a few of Mike’s family and friends spoke about Mike and his legacy. I met up with old friend Benji Durden, a 1980 Olympian and his wife Amy and Benji and I ran together a couple of old war horses still plugging with stories to be told yet, and we figured the last time we saw each other was at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville Alabama in 1991.

 

At one point in our run, Conner Mantz passed us going the other direction, and we all let up a cheer wishing him well.

 

We were so much older then, but we’re younger than that now.

 

It was a Bloody Mary breakfast at the Wild Duck, followed by further tributes and honors for Mike, and then home to get rested for the afternoon and evening at the track.

Ryan Crouser was not sure he would throw just twelve days ago, but won his third Olympic Trials! by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun

 

The highlights included Ryan Crouser in the shot—looking to be over multiple injuries—and Kovacs close behind—two of the best ever—friends and competitors who are the best of our sport in every way.

Hobbs Kessler, Yared Nuguse, 2024 OT 1,500m semi-finals, photo by Chuck Aragon

In the M 1500 semis, Nuguse left no doubt running trials, recording 3:34 in his heat.

 

W100 Final was smoking Sha Carri, running a world-leading time of 10.71.

https://www.nbcolympics.com/news/shacarri-richardson-officially-headed-paris-olympics-100m-final-win#:~:text=The%20reigning%20world%20champion%20dominated,seconds%20to%20clinch%20her%20spot.

 

That wrapped up day 2 of the action on the track. I headed off to the Wild Duck to mingle and hoist, and I was fortunate to land Coach Bob Larsen and four-time Olympian Martha Watson as table mates. They shared fries, wings, and stories galore.

 

Among my people are the throwers, jumpers’ runners, and drinkers’ society.

 

Remarkably interesting to hear the stories you thought you knew from the horse’s mouth. I knew I was seated with royalty when our table was visited nonstop all night by those offering their best regards and toast to past successes and future dreams.

 

Well, Mr. Sandman called me, and so I retired to be ready for more of the action tomorrow. It was adios for now.

 

Hard Day’s Night:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjyj8qnqkYI

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