The Pre-PRE

The Pre PRE      


A day before the opening ceremonies of the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, many of the volunteers gathered for the pre PRE at Lewis and Clark Catering on the riverfront, along with a writer or two, and athletes such as former world record holder and marathoner Jacki Hansen and Olympic steeplechaser Mike Manley.

The event was kept low key as everyone seemed to be catching their breath with the meet set to start on Friday night. Jack Anderson, a board member for the Oregon Track Club, and his wife Kathy acted as the hosts. They both managed to be everywhere, easing people into the event without ever looking harried.  

Tom Jordan, the meet director, made an appearance looking surprisingly relaxed after months of hard work to set up the PRE for another great year. He made the usual and as always, sincere, comments to the volunteers.

As usual with runners, even when they’re in volunteer mode, the conversations turned to running. I chatted with Barry Jahn about high school and junior high runners and then met a fellow ultrarunner with fifty races under his belt. We compared notes on the folks that we had raced against and where. With a lot of the older runners, the question of what happened to the 2:40 marathoner kept coming up.

The elites are running as well as ever and participation levels are at record highs but there’s a hole in the results where the dedicated, but not quite as talented, used to chase after the elite runners. No one knows why.

Jack Welch, the TAFWA award winning author, made the rounds, meeting old friends. He wrote, in an article about the Honolulu Marathon, that his finishing time in 1978 which was good for 169th place then would have placed him 63rd now. The times didn’t change but the field seemed to suddenly grow discontinuous. Perplexing.

That won’t be an issue at the PRE. The fields are stacked. With a little luck and a break in the weather, a couple of new world records are possible. The volunteers got some rest and their night. Friday they go to work and, knowing the Hayward crew, we won’t even notice them as things run as easy as water downhill.

Instead, we’ll watch world class athletes running, jumping, and throwing, all looking to score the win.