Jenny and I went out to dinner in Durham last night but beforehand we took in a few hours of the Duke Invitational Track Meet at Wallace Wade Stadium. This was a two-day event featuring over 1000 athletes from more than 50 schools.
While we were able to see several amazing races, the strongest impression I was left with was the total absence of spectator and fan support. With many world-class runners (we didn’t watch field events), we expected that the stadium would have been packed; however with the exception of a few family members, it was mostly the athletes supporting and cheering for their teammates. On the positive side, this made it quite easy to get prime seats and to interact with some of the runners.
The races that I was most interested in were the men’s and women’s 400 meters. In the women’s finals, 26 runners ran sub-60 seconds and in the men’s finals 19 runners were able to beat 50 seconds.
I was also struck by several individual performances. In the men’s 3000 meter Steeplechase Ryan McDermott from Duke cruised to a winning time of 8:55.89 (he barely seemed out of breath). And as good as his race was, I was even more impressed by Dena O’Brien, a freshman from the College of Charleston, who smoked everyone in the women’s 3000 meter (regular run, not Steeplechase). Her time was 9:28.25 and she was able to lap several of the slower runners. (Her time was just barely above a 5 minute mile pace – Wow!)
Next weekend is a one day meet at UNC (for local folks). If you aren’t from the area, just look up a college track and field webpage and check out their schedule. Take your family and find someone to root for. I’m guessing that the lonely athletes will greatly appreciate your support.