Working Our Way Back Slowly

David Yon, August 17, 2021

The last two weekends have featured well directed races but participation numbers below average.  There clearly is some reluctance among runners to test out the COVID precautions in place at these events.  For now, there are too many trap doors for the Delta variant to slip through.

The GWTC Breakfast on the Track Mile became the GWTC Breakfast to Go Mile on August 7.  This race has been run and directed by Felton and Bonnie Wright every year since 1998, except for 2020 when COVID – 19 caused the race to be canceled and kept people off the track.  So even though there were only 91 finishers this year, about half of a normal year’s turnout, there are some happy people taking advantage of a great racing opportunity.  It was also the first Grand Prix race of the year. Ryan Truchelut (yes, the Weather Tiger took a break from his storm watching) was the fastest runner on the track finishing in 4:46.27 just edging out Jonathan Stern who finished in 4:46.60.  Katie Sherron took the women’s title in 5:17.28 demonstrating she has returned to full fitness after giving birth to her second child, Finley, demonstrating that Allyson Felix is not the only mom who can take care of business on the track.  No word yet on whether Katie has written letters to Barrett or Finley.  Thirteen-year-old Clifton Lewis led the youth movement with a time of 5:53:50.

To reduce the chances of spreading any COVID viruses the normal pancake breakfast was suspended in favor of boxed cereal and coffee to go.  Nevertheless, the small turnout signaled more needs to be done to calm the virus fears.  

This past weekend the racing turned to Miller Landing Madness, a cross country race taking participants through some pretty areas of Elinor Phipps Park. This event offers three options to runners – an 8K (just short of 5 miles), a 5K and a 3K.  Over the last few years this race has averaged more than 500 finishers.  This weekend it was just above 300 finishers despite decent weather for this time of year. Ms. Sherron finished in a time of 31:28, according to Herb Wills, the fastest time a woman has ever run this course. Nicholas Samuel was the only person to finish ahead of Sherron.  That letter to Barrett and Finley is getting longer.

If you have been missing watching track and field since the Olympics finished, there is a great track meet coming up – the Prefontaine Classic. It is one of the best track and field meets in the U.S. and in the world.  The meet is scheduled for August 20-21 in Eugene, Oregon.   While there are a lot of spectacular battles, the Bowerman Mile is loaded with talented runners that want to lower the mile record – 3:43.13, which was set by Hicham El Guerrouj on July 7, 1999. He also holds the 1500 record – 3:26.0.

The Bowerman Mile is the last event and is scheduled for 2:50 p.m. on August 21.  I think that is Pacific time which is three hours earlier. The field includes: Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who just won the 1500 meter gold medal in Tokyo, the silver medalist from Tokyo and the current world champion in the 1500, Timothy Cheruiyot, and the 2016 Olympic 1500-meter gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz. One of the oldest world records could fall.

There are plenty other athletes in the meet worth watching. Now two-time Olympic gold medalist, Ryan Crouser who broke the Olympic record in the shot put in one of the most incredible Olympic performances of all time will be trying to break his world record put of 23.37 meters or 76 feet 8 and a quarter inches.

And just in case you are wondering what has happened to Sha’Carri Richardson, she is a headline performer at this meet.  With her 30-day suspension for marijuana over, she will race Olympic medalists Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce over 100 meters.

Friday night is “Women’s Distance Night in Eugene.” I have not found a start list yet but the events include 800, 1500, 2-mile and 5000-meter races. The 800-meter race is classified as “World Class.

It is a lot to get excited about as we continue to fight the battle against COVID. Be sure to tune in.

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