Sunday, August 3, 2008

Day 53, Track Town, USA

Day 53, McKenzie Bridge, OR - Corvallis 111 miles (4060 total)

August 2, 2008

Time on bike: 8:44:33

Avg: 12.7

Daily Ascent: 1939 ft (17 ft/mi)

Elevation at days end: 200 ft

Max: 31.5 mph

From Bust to Boom! If yesterday was one of the crappiest days on a bike where I had to sit and wait some 6 hours for a power hungry road crew to let me pass, then today was a day I won’t likely ever forget!

I cycled into Eugene, Oregon, home of the University of Oregon. Eugene is also known as “Track Town, USA” because of the success of long time track coach, Bill Bowerman, beginning in 1949, and to the many legendary UO track athletes, notably Steve Prefontaine and Alberto Salazar. Hayward Field is a mecca of sorts for distance runners.

I reached Hayward Field and noticed some track events going on. There were just a few people in the stands and I wondered what exactly was going on. The front gate was locked but the side gate was open, so I cycled in. I was immediately met by a couple wearing stopwatches around their necks. I would later learn that this was Bill and Marcia McChesney, both celebrated distance runners. Bill, who is now 80, still runs 40 miles a week. In1981 Bill set an American and World record for 53 year old men in the mile with a 4:51.5. In the same meet, his son, Bill Jr. broke the four-minute barrier in the mile event. Bill Jr. They were track officials for this meet which was a masters division track meet with all of the events of a normal track meet. Masters are 40+ year old athletes. Some of the athletes competing were will into their 80s! Bill and Marcia invited me down to the start/finish line where I chatted away with them while the events were going on. We talked about my bike trip and about cycling and running. I asked if I could run a lap around the track and they said it’d be fine.

Unbelievable! I ran a memorable lap around the track at the University of Oregon, Hayward Field! Where some of the most amazing runners of all time have poured out their heart and soul and gutted out some of the greatest track times ever! I also met others as well. I met Bob and Wayne there as well and had memorable conversations with them too. Wayne and I, while in the men’s room underneath the grandstands, got to talking. He had just participated in the hammer throw and shot put competitions where he did quite well. The conversation went from that to biking to accomplishing things in life to Jesus and church. Who would have thought that I’d be talking Jesus and church in the men’s room underneath the grandstands at Hayward Field… Unbelievably neat!

The whole day was just fantastic, in large part due to my time at the track. The folks there just took me right in and we had such a great time and in such an amazing place. The track had been renovated just prior to the US Olympic Trials which were held there just a few weeks prior.

I ended my trip in Corvallis, OR where I spent the night (somewhat illegally) in the city park. I should reach the coast today (exciting!) and I’ll reach Astoria by Monday evening!

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hayward Field! That is incredible Brian. I wish I could have been there for that.