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Hayward Field: Fun Facts & History

Published: February 16, 2018

Did you know?

  • According to the University of Oregon, Hayward Field, constructed in 1919, was originally set up to be a football field, not a track. It took another six years before the University of Oregon added a six-lane track around the outside of the field.
  • The field is named after Oregon track coach Bill Hayward, who coached the Oregon team from 1904 - 1947.
  • Famous runner Steve Prefontaine began his career at Hayward Field as an athlete for the University of Oregon Track & Field team, eventually competing in the 1972 Olympics.
  • Although the track has eight lanes now, it didn’t always. Hayward initially had only six, but it was widened to eight in the summer of 1969. The surface of the track was also converted to a “pro-turf” material, creating a hard and fast surface. Many world records were set on this track, and it gained national acknowledgment as the “earth’s fastest track.”
  • Hayward Field was featured in the classic National Lampoon film "Animal House," and was used as a set for the 1982 Olympics in the film Personal Best.
  • Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton also began his track career at Hayward as a freshman at the U of O.

Hayward and Nike

The multi-billion dollar athletic company, Nike, was started in the basement of Hayward Field by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, and (at the time) collegiate track athlete Phil Knight. Bowerman used a waffle iron to construct the first pair of Nike running shoes right underneath the field. The first shoe became known as the “Waffle Trainer” and was released for sale in 1974. Now, co-founder and chairman of Nike Phil Knight continues to give back to the university where his company began, donating millions of dollars to the restoration and creation of buildings on campus.

TrackTown USATrackTown USA MTR Western Shuttle Bus By Janelle Breedlove

NCAA Track & Field Championships

Hayward has been the host of nine NCAA Track & Field Championships!

Olympic Team Trials

Numerous times, the Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field events have been hosted at the historic Hayward Field, most recently in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Famous Oregon athletes like Ashton Eaton and Devon Allen earned a place on the U.S. team at these trials.

Oregon21: IAAF Track & Field World Championships

For the first time in history, the United States will host the IAAF Track & Field Championships right here at Hayward Field. The honor was awarded to the state by the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) Council back in 2015.

Author: Spencer Hurbis

Spencer is a native of Coos Bay, Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. During her time at the university, she worked as a reporter, anchor, and producer for Duck TV News, a student-run broadcast station. Last winter, she spent six months in Los Angeles, CA interning for ABC News. She has also worked as a reporter with KEZI 9 News in Eugene, gaining experience as an on-air reporter, writer, editor, and photographer. Spencer spent three years working as the marketing director for a medical office on the Oregon Coast, building their website and developing social media content and marketing strategies. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her corgi, Louis, and ice skating.