On the eve of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, following three fun and busy days of welcoming the nation's best collegiate athletes to TrackTown USA, I find myself sounding a bit like a broken record… in a good way! Our staff has spent three days set up in the lobbies of three key hotels, greeting NCAA visitors and providing materials and information to help them enjoy their stay in our city - a service we often provide to our sports events. But it strikes me that whether the athletes are from Alabama, Utah, or California, they all want to see and explore those quintessential Eugene sights.
Here’s the track on my broken record:
Pre’s Trail From dozens of area hotels, runners can take a short connector trail or road and hop quickly on to the famed Pre’s Running Trail. Six miles of well-groomed bark chip trails is just what an aspiring National Champion needs to shake out before the big stage.
Pre’s Rock This is the site of the tragic car accident that took the life of Steve Prefontaine in 1975. Many athletes and teams visit this memorial, located at the site of the crash near the intersection of Birch and Skyline Boulevard in Eugene, perhaps hoping a little of Pre’s Magic will rub off on them. Note: parking is limited and pedestrians should use caution on this narrow road.
Bike Rentals I was a little surprised by this one, considering these are fine-tuned athletes, but it turns out NCAA coaches and staff need to get their workout in too. One coach was looking to rent a road bike for a 20-miler, while another checked out a cruiser from the hotel front desk for a quick ride over to Hayward Field. Our bike-friendly reputation precedes us.
Nike World Headquarters While this is not a Eugene location, you can’t deny the history that Eugene and Nike have together, and a trip to Oregon for many of these teams is not complete without a full roundup of the TrackTown experience. The Nike Headquarters is located in Beaverton, a half-day trip (two hours each way) from Eugene. While not open to the public, tours can be scheduled with a Nike employee.
Other popular inquiries included shopping (it’s no secret that Oregon’s tax-free shopping is a major bonus!), quick trips to the coast, restaurants for large groups, and hiking recommendations. One athlete from Alabama had never seen snow-capped mountains before and was anxious to get out on the trails (although, his coach likely did not approve).
Good luck to all of the athletes competing this week – we’ve enjoyed getting to know you a little better!
About the author: Kayla is the Director of Event Operations for Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports and Mom to 21 month old son, Chace. As a former student-athlete at the University of Oregon, she can often be found cheering on the Ducks from Autzen Stadium to Hayward Field.