Opinion & Editorial, Sports Zone

TrackTown: A legacy owned by generations

Kate Walkup
Travel Lane County

In an article for Eugene Magazine’s Summer 2008 issue, Vin Lananna—former University of Oregon head track & field coach—wrote, “The spirit of TrackTown USA isn’t confined to the track at Hayward Field. Walkers, joggers and runners fill the beautiful trails that wind throughout Eugene and the surrounding hills. Runners of all ages and all abilities come to run beside the Willamette River and to visit Pre’s Rock. All those who love TrackTown USA are caretakers of its great history and are participants in its exciting future. We have the opportunity to revolutionize the sport of track and field again, inspire a new generation of spectators and participants, and advance our community on the national and international stage.”

Now, after hosting four consecutive Olympic Trials at Hayward Field, a new generation of spectators and participants is here to experience and compete in the fifth consecutive Trials in TrackTown—the second at the reimagined Hayward Field. While the stadium might feel different from what it once looked like with new faces competing, the community still owns the title of TrackTown that it once did when legends like Steve Prefontaine, Ashton Eaton and Raevyn Rodgers stepped into the starting blocks, toed the line or prepared for yet another decathlon event. 

The power of the brand of historic Hayward Field kept the community engaged in the sport and invested in the future of each athlete who stepped on the track in front of the packed crowd. The obsession the residents had with Hayward Field and the magic surrounding each competition leaked out into the community beyond the venue itself. 

Downtown Springfield has hosted many running races, including the 20km race walk for the 2020 Olympic Trials and the marathon for the 2022 World Athletics Championships. Although these competitions didn’t happen at Hayward Field, the TrackTown buzz was proven to have a dominating presence in the Eugene/Springfield area beyond just the track.  

Hayward Field and TrackTown are still alive in today’s community. The images of Hayward Field dress the city, with nods to historic Hayward Field through artistic touches of nostalgia. A structure doesn’t build memories, but rather the people inside the structure making the magic happen are who extend the living legacy of TrackTown. While the energy stems from the athletes, the community and fans who bring life to the stadium are the glue that keeps Hayward Field from being like any other community track. 

Personal stories like Bill Bowerman ruining his wife’s waffle iron by testing out different running shoe soles or the backstory of where the Stop Pre shirts really came from are what draw the community in and create new track fans. Residents who may not be diehard track and field fans latch on to these stories and feel a sense of familiarity with the sport, athletes and coaches. 

Sometimes, finding an individual’s story can help connect one generation of track and field fans to the next. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)  hosted the third annual Collegiate Track & Field/Cross Country Athlete Hall of Fame on June 2. Oregon native and University of Oregon alum Bill Dellinger, along with 13 other post-collegiate athletes, were inducted in the class of 2024. Dellinger started his coaching career at the University of Oregon after spending four years as a collegiate distance runner for Oregon. He also took his expertise to other local track and field programs like Thurston High School and Lane Community College. By coaching other athletes in the Eugene/Springfield area, Dellinger shared the Hayward magic with other communities in TrackTown. 

It’s crucial to recognize that a robust brand identity not only makes a community an exciting place to visit but also shapes it into a dynamic and fulfilling place for those who call this home. The intersection of a strong community brand and the essence of TrackTown holds the potential to foster a sense of pride, camaraderie and shared purpose among residents and visitors alike. 

For the schedule of 2024 track and field events at Hayward Field, visit WeAreTrackTown.org.

Kate Walkup is the Sports Sales and Marketing Coordinator for the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission. 



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos