The last TrackTown Tuesday of 2019, held at the Downtown Athletic Club on June 4, looked toward the future of track and field in the community.
OTC Elite’s Sally Kipyego headlined the event, showcasing her vivacious personality to the crowd. Kipeygo, a prolific distance runner with a 2012 Olympic silver medal in the 10,000m to her name, has since made the transition to the marathon. That journey has brought both triumphs and challenges. One of those successes was a runner-up finish at the 2016 New York Marathon.
“I remember crossing the finish line in New York and coming in second was amazing,” said Kipyego. “You can’t replicate that. I love the marathon, but I have a hate-love relationship with it. But it’s more love.”
She also shared a story of how, while was driving a car in Kenya, young girls were shocked to see a woman driving on the road.
“Children need to see people like them doing great things for them to believe that it is possible,” said Kipyego.
That experience stuck with her as she noticed the impact athletes can have on young children. In 2014, Kipyego partnered with Shoe4Africa, a foundation that builds schools and hospitals in Kenya. In collaboration with that organization, her alma mater primary school has since been rebuilt and renamed after her.
As she prepares for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon, Kipyego is focusing on developing her mindset.
“I say to myself: I have achieved this before and I have run this race before,” she said. “I have been successful at this before, so I can do it again.”
University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens was also a guest on the show, sharing information with the crowd on Duck athletics and Hayward Field. According to Mullens, the development of Hayward Field is crucial to the sport of track and field.
“Hayward is so unique – not only what it does for UO track, but it is the epicenter of track in this country and even for the world,” said Mullens. “I was really struck when I arrived here that this was a really unique community gathering spot.”
Mullens oversees the entire Oregon athletic department, and he discussed the common thread throughout all the programs in regard to recruiting and attracting athletes to Oregon.
“We look for people who are a great fit,” said Mullens. “We keep things simple: we want a culture of excellence in everything that we do. The foundation of everything is providing an exceptional student-athlete experience.”
Prefontaine Classic Meet Director Tom Jordan tested the crowd with trivia on athletes who are set to compete at the Pre Classic on June 30 in Stanford, CA. Jordan acknowledged that the Eugene fans are still the best track and field supporters in the country.
“One of the things that was special is to see the kind of loyalty and appreciation that the fans in this area have for the Prefontaine Classic,” said Jordan. “In return, I have appreciation for you all because I’ve been to a lot of track meets around the world and I think the fans here are the most knowledgeable in the world.”
TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly concluded the show by revealing ticket information for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field. Tickets will go on sale to the public on July 25, 2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific. More information on Olympic Trials tickets can be found at TrackTown20.com.