TrackTown achieves something better than gold

Hayward Field and the surrounding area are captured in this aerial shot during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field. (Photo by Dave Thomas)

EUGENE, Ore. – We did it!

Already recognized as a global leader in producing sustainable sporting events, TrackTown USA, Inc. achieved a huge milestone in 2016 when two separate events were awarded Evergreen certification by the Council for Responsible Sport.

Evergreen Status is the highest level of certification granted by the Council, which assesses and certifies events much like the LEED certification process for buildings. Only three events have reached that pinnacle since new standards were implemented in 2014.

And now, TrackTown USA has delivered two of them – the IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland (March 17-20) and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field (June 30-July 10).

“We are ecstatic about this recognition of the hard work of our volunteers, committee members and staff to make both events much more than just a track and field meet,” said TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna. “TrackTown USA is committed to hosting events that engage and inspire, whether partnering with public transportation agencies to cut carbon emissions from travel, sharing our diverse wine, beer, and food culture with visitors from around the world, or encouraging youth to get moving through sport and fitness programs.”

The Council assesses and certifies events based on five metrics: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, community legacy, and access and equity. There are four levels of certification – Evergreen, Gold, Silver and Basic. In order to achieve Evergreen status, an organization must earn 90 percent of the available credits for the event.

“TrackTown USA has cultivated an atmosphere of excellence that extends beyond the field to all aspects of the events it hosts,” said Shelley Villalobos, certification director for the Council for Responsible Sport. “With these two Evergreen certifications, and the efforts that earned them, the Council witnessed broad engagement of local communities and visitors alike in programs that enhanced the experience while simultaneously reducing resource usage and waste. TrackTown USA continues to raise the bar and deserves every bit of recognition it receives as a leading host of elite sporting events.”

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Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was the official starter for the Middle School 60m Dash at the Oregon Convention Center, which enabled 350 students from Portland public schools to run on the same track used for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Josh Phillips)

As the local organizing committee for both the World Indoor Championships and the Olympic Trials, TrackTown USA was committed to finding new ways to showcase community organizations and culture, encourage healthy lifestyles, and minimize environmental impact through initiatives before and during the events.

The Nike Run Club House of Track was a particularly significant initiative. Partnering with the City of Portland to build the 200-meter track and infield in a vacant warehouse in northwest Portland, the warehouse was transformed into a community resource in January and February. The House of Track was open seven days/week for athlete training, community runs, and elite track and field meets which drew competitors from around the country. Assembling the track in the warehouse prior to moving it into the Oregon Convention Center for the World Indoor Championships brought the sport of indoor track and field to thousands more.

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Seven young girls wave to the camera shortly after competing in an exhibition 100m race during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field at Hayward Field. Thanks to a variety of TrackTown USA youth initiatives, thousands of youngsters competed in similar races at Hayward Field and the Oregon Convention Center during the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Dave Thomas)

TrackTown USA partnered with the City of Eugene and Nike on the Starting Block for the Olympic Trials. Thousands of kids participated in the Youth Heptathlon, running, jumping, and throwing in seven events around the free fan festival surrounding Hayward Field. For many of the kids, it was their first opportunity to try the events and volunteers – including local athletes – supported them with tips and encouragement.

Additional initiatives for the World Indoor Championships included:

  • Partnered with TriMet to provide free access to the MAX light rail system for all accredited individuals during World Indoors. Also partnered with Uber to provide on-demand transportation to meet the needs of officials, athletes and media. This greatly reduced the need for shuttles and carpool vehicles.
  • Arranged elite athlete speaker series at local public schools and community groups so students and members of the public could hear from the athletes and be inspired about their life experiences and competitive events.
  • More than 300 students got to run on the World Indoor track at the Oregon Convention Center by taking part in the Middle School 60m Dash. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales served as the official starter, and the youngsters heard from both TTUSA President Vin Lananna and Olympian Michelle Carter.
  • The Pole Vault Festival drew 230 high school pole vaulters from around the Pacific Northwest to a free clinic in the Moda Center with expert instruction from coaches and athletes. Afterward, they were seated on the track to watch the world’s greatest pole vaulters for the World Championships.
  • For the first time ever, high school athletes were part of the World Indoor competition timetable with 144 runners from 36 schools in Oregon, Washington and Idaho competing in a series of 4×400-meter relay races.
  • More than 1,000 free tickets were distributed to youth and families in the Portland area to allow them to attend the event. For many, it was their first opportunity to experience an indoor track and field meet.
  • Created a pilot program with Self Enhancement, Inc. for students to learn about local professional opportunities in sports and tourism. The students toured the Oregon Convention Center before World Indoors, with a follow-up visit to see how it was transformed into a 7,000-seat indoor stadium.
  • The medal ceremonies for World Indoors were moved out of the competition venue to Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland so those who couldn’t be at the event were still able to participate in the festivities. It was an emotional scene as a live orchestra played the national anthems of each gold medalist with thousands in attendance.

Some of the Olympic Trials programs were as follows:

  • A free Fan Festival outside of Hayward Field was open to the entire community with live feeds of the competition on two large video boards, live entertainment and local food and beverage vendors such as Ninkasi Brewing Company and King Estate Winery.
  • A ticket donation program allowed spectators who couldn’t use all of their tickets to return the unused tickets so they could be redistributed to local community groups and other underserved populations and families.
  • The Starting Block was designed to encourage youngsters to make healthy lifestyle choices and develop a passion for sport. Thousands of kids participated in the Youth Heptathlon and tested their knowledge at the Trivia Wheel, and more than 10,000 buttons were distributed.
  • Donation of assets to BRING and Habitat for Humanity to reduce waste and contribute to the success of both organizations.

In addition, TrackTown USA implemented standard practices at both events to minimize environmental impact:

  • Providing reusable water bottles and water refill stations to media and volunteers to minimize purchase and consumption of single-use plastic bottles.
  • Utilized a visible “Green Team” of volunteers to educate and engage visitors about waste reduction, composting and diversion.
  • Established robust food donation programs with local food banks resulting in thousands of pounds of donated food.
  • Provided free bike valet to encourage biking to and from the events as opposed to driving for spectators, volunteers, officials and workforce.
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Multiple water stations at Hayward Field during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field allowed people to refill their water bottles. (Photo by Josh Phillips)