Olympians

Yesterday was the coolest day.  We went to the next to last day of the US Track and Field Olympic Trials at Hayward Field (home of Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman), and it was INCREDIBLE.  It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever watch the actual Olympic Games in person, but yesterday, we got to watch the best track and field athletes in the US compete for a spot on the US Olympic team – those were actual Olympians, and it was unbelievable to watch.  I mean, I’m saying this even about sports I don’t care about and know nothing about, like the high jump and the javelin throw.  Those were neat to see (and the woman who won the javelin throw has the best name – Maggie Malone), but we were really there for the running events.  Us and everyone else, really.  The place was packed by the time the men’s 5000m final started.  Watching an Olympic (near-Olympic 5K) is NOTHING like watching a neighborhood 5K.  There were 16 men competing, and since we didn’t know anything about any of them, we decided to cheer for the oldest guy, Bernard Lagat, who is 41 years old and holds the American record at this distance.  I got video of them coming around during the first lap.

I forgot to mention that we had AMAZING SEATS.  We were right in the center of the long straight stretch of the track, on the starting line side (behind them – we could see butts in the air at the start), IN THE FIFTH ROW.  We were on the wrong side for the finish, but we could see plenty.

My plan was to get that video (accomplished), then conserve my battery (I was down to 13%) and get another short video as they came around for the final lap.  That first lap was relatively slow, and I wanted to be able to contrast that to the effort they’d be putting in on the final lap.  On a track, a 5K is 12 and a half laps long, so I had plenty of time to watch a few laps and then get ready to record again.  The race was crazy exciting.  Two guys were out front at first, but they tired out and didn’t end up staying in front.  Then there were another two in front (way out front), and then, right at the end, everyone else started catching up.  The guy we were cheering for, Lagat, was in the middle of the pack the whole time…right up until that last half-lap, when he SURGED AHEAD AND WON.  The 41-year-old won the race.  It was incredible, and I was screaming my head off and then his face crumpled in happy tears and so did I.  I was highly susceptible to those athletes’ emotions yesterday.  So was the lady next to me.

Anyway, I’d have video of that last lap (or at the least the part right in front of us, like in the earlier video – I had every intention of cheering, not recording, as they headed to the finish), but my phone chose the moment I pressed the record button to crap out on me and tell me my camera crashed.  SO ANNOYED.  This is the last disappointment I’ll take from you, phone.

You can watch official video of that last lap (like I just did) here.  If you pause the video at 41 seconds and squint, I think you can see John (grey jacket and his hat) and a blur that might be me, 5th row.  Or I might be imagining it.  But we’re there!

It was so cool.  Honestly, seeing this in person was one of my top five reasons for moving to Eugene.  Tomorrow I’ll post some of the pictures I took.

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