Thursday, June 6, 2013

Track & Field

Unlike a lot of the people I know who run, I'm a huge fan of track & field! My favorite websites are running related sites, but not things like Runner's World, which is more tailored to the road running/fun run scene. It is surprising since I don't get to really run track. I haven't run a track season since high school ended in the spring of 2001. Twelve years later and I think I love track & field even more.

That's probably because of the Internet and how it has made the information readily available at my fingertips. My high school coaches introduced me to in high school. Charlie Hurt introduced me to, and Track and Field News in college.

This past month, I attended what was probably my first high school track meet in a decade since my brother stopped running, the Dogwood Track Classic. Charlie was the meet director so I came to volunteer. I was there at 5:30AM to set up and only got to stay for a few hours, but had a great time! So when I found out that the Northwest Regional Championship was at UVA (just like it had been when I was in high school), I jumped at the chance to come out. The 4x8 was on Thursday night (so the kids could still run the 3200m and another race on Friday), and that was very exciting! I volunteered the next day, giving splits at the start/finish line, lining up the kids for each heat, and getting relays organized in the exchange zone. Again, so much fun!

Then that weekend I watched the adidas Grand Prix Diamond League meet from New York City on TV. The coverage was terrible on NBC, but I love watching it and talking about it afterwards. We were in Fredericksburg for Kim's birthday, so I recorded it at KC's mom's house. When the party wound down, I watched the meet with her family and love letting them know all the interesting details that makes the sport so interesting.

This past Friday night I went over to Harrisonburg High School to watch Jonathan Mersiowsky run in the 4x8. They finished 6th in their heat, behind another team in the slower heat, to earn 7th place and All-State. I stuck around to watch the girls' and boys' 3200s because Charlie had two kids from Western Albemarle in the race. I'd met these kids once or twice before in the fall, and wanted them to do well because of Charlie. They ran awesome! The sister and brother placed 3rd (seeded 13th) and 2nd (seeded 4th) to earn their first of two All-State certificates that weekend (both placed in the mile too). Jonathan's team came back in the 4x400 and got 8th place as well!

Friday night and Saturday was the Prefontaine Classic (after the legendary drunk driver & Olympic 4th place finisher Steve Prefontaine). I got home Friday night in time to watch all of the race on, but the website crashed until about 10:46, so I got to watch the 10K live. Again, terrible race coverage. We had to listen to Mo Farah and Galen Rupp talk about their new shoes that we can buy online now. Farah was supposed to be in the race but dodged the competition instead.

Saturday I was watching the coverage live again. It was on NBC Sports Network from 3:30-4:30 (a channel I only have in standard definition) and then from 4:30-6:00 on NBC. I elected to watch the coverage online from someone's international feed that they're broadcasting online. About 50 minutes in, they changed the channel to some show about the London Tower or something, I don't know, and I had to watch the NBC feed instead. It might seem strange to watch the coverage online instead of on TV. Online the picture quality is lower, it lags sometimes, and is largely unreliable. But that is still better than watching it on NBC. NBC breaks away from coverage at the worst times and has terrible announcers. Even though LetsRun is all over Ato Boldon, saying he's the best commentator (and he is knowledgeable about the sprints), I'd still rather watch it in silence than have to hear any of them talk. The international feeds have Steve Cram and Tim Hutchinson, who do a marvelous job. They pronounce the names correctly and show excitement during the races.

Track & field continues this week. The NCAA D1 championships are in Eugene this week. They're streaming live on the Pac-12 network, ESPN3, and ESPNU. Last night I enjoyed watching the 800 heats, the men's steeple heats, and the women's 10k through the Pac-12 network online. It's so low budget but it is perfect, in my opinion. We've just got the live feed of the races, and the only announcing is the announcer in the stadium.  Before the race, they scroll through ALL the entrants names in each race, and after the race, they scroll through the entire results. They don't cut away when the leader crosses the line to show them bent over, we actually see the other finishers too.

Today I'm watching the Rome Diamond League meet online through the international feeds. At first, I was getting it in Italian. That was cool, I didn't understand any of it, but it was vastly superior to the NBC announcers like Lewis Johnson and Tom Hammond. That feed froze, so I refreshed it, and somehow I'm back to the UK announcers with no commercials. Tonight I'll watch more NCAAs.

I started writing this over the weekend. I sort of lost track of what I was trying to say. Probably why I'm not a writer. But the point is, watch track & field on TV! You might like it!

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