EUGENE, Ore.– There wasn’t an empty seat in the stands at Hayward Field Saturday as track and field fans from all over the country watched some of the fastest runners in the world race at the Prefontaine Classic. Fans said there’s just something special about this race that keeps them coming back year after year.
For some, sitting in the stands at the Prefontaine Classic is an annual tradition. “This is my 12th year. First time I came was in 1998. I brought John here as well and he was a senior in high school. Then we started coming in 2001 and since 2001 we’ve only missed one time,” said Shawn Lawler.
For others, it’s their first time experiencing what they call one of the most historic races and places in the track and field community. “I always watch this meet on TV every year and I just always wanted to be a part of historic Hayward Field and the energy, the fans. Everything is just awesome so that whole vibe and atmosphere just adds to the reason why I wanted to be here,” said Ashton-Lee Johnson.
As diverse as their experiences at Hayward are the distances they’ve traveled to get to this race. Some fans came from Idaho and Pennsylvania to watch the races.
But one thing all of these fans have in common is their love of running and watching the sport. “My son was on the Olympic team in 2008 and so I’ve always sort of basked in the reflective glory off of him,” said Ted Dobson.
“All of us ran collegiality. I actually coached both of those guys in high school and continue to coach high school distance runners both in track and cross country,” said Lawler.
“I’ve been running since age five. I ran through club track, high school track, and college track. Now I do rogue marathons here and there so it kind of helps me stay in shape,” said Johnson.