>runners take your mark…

>So what would you do on a rainy, cold, November Saturday? Maybe stay inside and watch a movie of two, maybe stay inside and watch some football? Me, I had to bundle up my family and drag them out to the NCAA Western Regional Championships, one of the college crosscountry races leading to the NCAA Championships next week.

Here is the men’s starting line about one minute before the gun.

That image gives me goose bumps. I have always been a fan of running and track & field. I grew up in Eugene, OR, sometimes known as Track City U.S.A., and home of Hayward Field, the track & field home for the UofO Ducks, and site of the upcoming 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. I remember watching Steve Prefontaine run. I remember the 1970s running craze. I sat in the stands for three U.S Track & Field Olympic Trials (1972, 1976, and 1980).

I spent many hours at Hayward over the years watching great athletic performances and competed in some while on my high school track & field team (shot put, discuss, javelin, hammer). Needless to say, I am a fan. But I had never attended a crosscountry meet. So this was new to me. It was every bit as exciting as a top flight track & field competition.

Here are the men at about 8 seconds into the 10K (6.2 mile) race.

The rush of runners going by was exhilarating. One reason I wanted to go was to take my daughter Lily. I wanted her to get up close to the competition and witness the effort firsthand. I don’t think she was all that interested until this moment when it dawned on her that this was exciting stuff indeed. From that point on she was into it.

The fans lined the course and made lots of noise as the runners passed.

The course was a circuitous loop around the Springfield Country Club golf course. As the race wore on the runners began to string out.

Here is Galen Rupp, top UofO distance runner.

Galen eventually won the race in a time of 29:35.45, that’s an average of 04:45.73 per mile! Galen has been a bright star in the world of college distance running for several years. I’m curious where he will end up.

Here is the starting line for the women’s race.

And there they go.

As the race wore on the runner’s began to string out and the race favorites grouped at the front.

There is a natural beauty in excellent athletic ability. These runners, men and women, have such physical grace that one cannot help but be amazed when they go by. It is like hearing a gifted singer sing.

On the second to last lap only four runners remained at the front, two from Standford (one of the great crosscountry powerhouses) and two from Oregon (another great running powerhouse).

Here is Teresa McWalters of Stanford crossing the finish line in first place with a time for 6K (3.7 miles) of 19:57.30, or an average of 05:21.14 per mile.

And in second place is Nicole Blood of the UofO.

Lily and I stood where the runners gathered after they crossed the finish line. It seemed to me that Lily was almost overwhelmed and in awe of all these runners coming across the finish and showing their utter exhaustion from having given their all. She also saw the camaraderie as runners hugged each other and helped those too tired to stand. She kept saying “good job” to the runners that came near her.

At one point a runner came over to the fence Lily was hanging on and put her head down, resting from the extreme effort.

I saw Lily watching this runner (I think it was Breanne Strenkows of UCSB, 53rd place) and I could tell that it was a powerful moment for Lily. This was what I hoped Lily’s experience would be; to be this close to the fullness of athletic endeavour and maybe, even just a little, to be inspired. And me? I had a great time and left full of inspiration too, and grateful for my family’s indulgences.

One thought on “>runners take your mark…

  1. >I never saw this post before, and you even have a shot of Jayson catching the winners as they cross the finish line.I share many of the same sentiments from the race this past Friday.

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