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Stanford fires the starter pistol in the 2017 Track Town Summer Series
The 2017 TrackTown Summer Series began at Stanford with many fun-filled and competitive events. (JOSH PHILLIPS/TrackTown USA)

Stanford fires the starter pistol in the 2017 Track Town Summer Series

Watching the NBA, NFL and MLB is such a big part of American culture. In the US the same spirit for track and field is lacking. In response, TrackTown USA launched its second annual Summer Series with the first meet held at Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field on Thursday, June 29.

Track meets, unlike the events they are made up of, can often be sluggish. The Summer Series consists of “compressed meets” to provide a fast-paced and action-filled two- to three-hour-long events, in an attempt to cultivate the American Track and Field culture and create household names out of top American track and field athletes in time for the 2021 IAAF World Championships. The day went smoothly and efficiently transitioned from event to event.

Competitors consisted of World Record holders, Olympic medalists, national champions, All-Americans, and more. They were grouped into four teams based on cities. The competing teams were the San Francisco Surge, the Portland Pulse, the Philadelphia Force and the New York Empire.

Fresh off the competitive USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento to Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field, the athletes competed in a relaxed yet exciting atmosphere. As a testament to the fun-loving nature of the event, as jumpers got ready for their run-ups, the announcer said, “And now [insert name of athlete] would like your help” which caused the crowd to clap to the rhythm of the jumpers’ strides.

The 400-meters was won by guest runner Steven Solomon ’16. The five-time reigning Australian champion in the 400-meters and finalist in the men’s 400-meters at the 2012 London Olympics before joining Stanford ran his fastest time outside of the Olympic Games with a time of 45.19 seconds.

Drawn to the event by the strength of the race, encouragement from his coach and the atmosphere of the event, Solomon went into the race knowing his body was ready for the challenge and that his success would be up to his mentality on that day.

“I was really happy—[and] quite nervous—going into the race because I had put a lot of expectations on myself and I really wanted things to go well,” Solomon said. “Afterwards, I was absolutely elated with my time and the win…It was the perfect way to cap off my time at the Farm.”

Though track and field is so often thought of as an individual’s sport, TrackTown is attempting to add a team aspect to the sport.

“The team aspect makes it more exciting not just for the fans, but also for the competitors themselves,” Solomon said. “I was able to identify with other athletes whom I had never known before, simply because they were wearing the same color vest as I was.”

“New friendships and new social interactions…are very important in building the sport,” he continued. “[This concept] could really have a hold on how we view track and field as a spectator sport outside of the major championships. I am very thankful to the organizers for including me in the event and I wish its every success in the future.”

The day ended with the Boy’s Mile race, made up of the Bay Area’s locally-acclaimed high schoolers who are ready for their pre-collegiate debut. After the races were concluded, to introduce future athletes to track and field, kids were invited to run in the Kids’ Half-Lapper.

The home team and the inaugural year’s champion, the San Francisco Surge led the meet with 90 points, followed by the Portland Pulse with 86, the New York Empire with 84 and the Philadelphia Force with 69.

On July 2, the TrackTown Summer Series continued in Portland. On July 6, the finals were held in New York and broadcast on ESPN.

 

Contact Diva-Oriane Marty at dior ‘at’ dhillonmarty.com