May 2019 Newsletter

Masthead image for November 2018 Beyond the Finish Line newsletter with baton handoff

A Recreation Legacy

Eugene is so steeped in track and field history that at one time or another over the past 50 years the greats of the sport have run our streets, kicked up dust on our running trails and made the turn on the Bowerman Corner at Hayward Field. This is, after all, Track Town U.S.A.

The City of Eugene has embraced that nickname. You know the lore. Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight and Nike. The University of Oregon and its championships. Steve Prefontaine. The East Grandstand at Hayward Field and three Olympic Trials from 1972 to 1980 followed by three more from 2008 to 2016.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

Lost in the big names and memorable moments, though, is the dedication other parts of the community have given to the sport to make the moniker Track Town U.S.A. more than just an empty title. This city jogs the jog. 

This Summer's Activities

With the next Olympic Trials slated for Eugene at the newly rebuilt Hayward Field in 2020 followed by the 2021 IAAF World Track & Field Championships, teams in Recreation and Cultural Services are preparing for new and exciting ways of interacting with the community. There will be a youth engagement push with Eug2021 at the Party in the Parks events this summer with fun track-related activities and information about what the City is doing, and Rec Athletics is starting a Couch-to-5K program on Tuesday nights in June and July.

Decades of Rec Programming

The push for community programming around the sport draws inspiration from decades of experience. Eugene Rec has sponsored and led multiple fitness initiatives for youth through the years. In the 1970s a youth program supervisor at Westmoreland Community Center worked with local track stars at the UO to host a kids running program, and from 1978 through 2014 the City partnered with Eugene 4J and Bethel to hold multiple fourth and fifth grade track and field meets as part of the Hershey’s Track and Field Games.

At the previous three Olympic Trials, Rec and Cultural Services ran the popular Starting Block attraction that got kids competing in a decathlon. They could earn medals by completing all the events and it was a great place for families to spend time during long days at the track.

Adaptive Recreation has held exhibition races between heats at big meets at Hayward Field featuring adaptive athletes, and the City even hosted a button-making booth that created thousands of buttons to help people declare their love for track and field.

Track and Field Infrastructure Investments

Eugene has also invested in running and track and field infrastructure. The all-bark Adidas Oregon Trail loops through Amazon Park and in the 1990s the City worked with partners to build the Rexius Trail along Amazon Creek to connect the park to the Ridgeline Trail in South Eugene. In Alton Baker you can run on a trail named for one of Oregon’s most famous track stars or circle the Willamette River on the paved Riverbank Path.

Oregon21 Sparks Projects that Create a Difference

You’ve heard much in the last couple years about how Oregon21 can spark projects that create a difference in Eugene. For Recreation Athletics Supervisor Laurel Mathiesen, partnering with the community to promote 2021 initiatives just makes sense.

“It allows for us as a department to connect with and engage the community in a way that we have not previously been able to do,” she said. “It also allows us to encourage all ages, from kids to adults, to draw inspiration from the athletes and live healthy and active lives.”

The City has taken a lead role in previous track and field events to ensure the event represents our community values, and it will do the same in 2021. The City is committed to hosting an inclusive, safe and responsible event for all.