Journal: Dorman graduate Ryan Jank

Submitted by Ryan Jank, Charlotte cross country, track & field athlete

Last weekend, my coach Brad Herbster took me and some of my teammates (six guys and two girls) out to Eugene, Oregon to run at Hayward Field in the Oregon Invitational.

We left campus Thursday morning at 5:50 a.m. to catch our connection flight to Atlanta at 7:30.  After a brief layover in Atlanta, we continued our journey to Eugene with a 5 hour plane ride to Seattle, Wa.  We arrived in Washington at 12:30 (Pacific Time), got our bags and rental van, and left for Eugene around 1 p.m.  It was about a 5-5.5 hour drive from Seattle to Eugene, but the trip went by pretty fast because of the beautiful scenery and the excitement of running at Hayward Field.

We got to our hotel in Eugene around 6 p.m. and quickly changed for a light, 4-mile run.  We did our warm-up to Hayward and ran around the University of Oregon for the remaining miles, including the cemetery where Pre used to do some of his runs.  When we got back, we bought some snacks and Gatorade at the grocery store, drove up to see  Pre’s memorial where he died in his car crash, and ate dinner at Track Town Pizza.

After dinner, we all went back to our rooms for some much needed sleep after the 15 hours of traveling.  I roomed with teammate Adu Dentamo who was running the 5,000-meter run with me the next day.    

The following morning, Brad let us sleep in, so we woke up around 8:30 to eat the continental breakfast before our morning run.  While we were getting our food, Bolota Asmeron (one of the featured athletes in the movie 5000 meters and a top US distance runner) walked in, so we talked to him for a little bit about running.  At 9:30, we piled into the van for our three mile “shakeout run” around Pre’s Trail.  While we were running, we passed a man decked out in Nike gear who helped point us in the right direction every time we came to a “fork” in the trail.  We decided that we should just run with the guy before we got lost.  It turned out that the man we were running with was New Zealand National Champion and Nike runner, Michael Aish.  After the run, we stretched out for a bit and walked around the nearby football stadium.  We found an open gate and we walked down to the field and took some pictures.

We lounged around the hotel for a couple of hours and then walked up to the track around 3:30.  At 4:40, Adu and I began our warm-up for the 5000 an hour later.

On the starting line of my race, I was on the very outside of the track (I was seeded 30th out of 32 runners).  When the gun went off, I got a pretty good start and broke to the inside of my alley.  After the first turn, we could break, and I settled into fifth place.  We went out in 66 (seconds) and I backed off to my race pace.  We came through the mile in 4:32, but I started settling too much and clicked off a couple of 70’s, which is two seconds slower than what I wanted.  Also, after the fifth or sixth lap, a move was made to jump back on pace, but I screwed myself when I hesitated to go.  Adu and I came through the two mile together in 9:09 and feeling strong.  With a mile to go, I tried to pick up the pace, dropping it back down to 67 and 68, but my legs started tightening up and I finished the last 800 meters in 2:23. I finished 17th in my heat with a time of 14:30.1, which was pretty disappointing because I feel like I am in at least sub-14:20 shape. 

I was also frustrated because I really wanted to hit the Regional 5k mark of 14:12 at Oregon.

The rest of the night was a lot of fun just being a spectator at Hayward Field.  I got to see a very fast women’s 5k where Kara Goucher ran 15:10 and my teammate Jane Daniels ran a 25 second PR, with a Regional qualifying time of 16:44.  Also, the fast heat of the men’s 5k may have been the most exciting race that I have ever seen.  With 3 laps to go, Chris Solinsky of Wisconsin and Galen Rupp of Oregon broke away from a pack of pro runners when they started hitting 60 second quarters.  On the last lap, Solinsky surged ahead and opened a 20 meter gap on Rupp.  I thought the race was over, but coming down the homestretch you could see Solinsky tie up a little.  The Oregon fans were going crazy when Rupp was gaining ground on every stride.  At the line, Rupp barely out-leaned Solinsky for the win.  They ran 13:30.49 and 13:30.54, respectively.  Also, Bolota Asmeron, Michael Aish, and Terukazu Omori had a photo finish for the next top spots as they ran 13:34.23, 13:34.42, and 13:34.44 respectively.  Once all the races were done, we ate dinner and went to bed.

The next morning, everyone who ran the night before woke up at 9:00 to do an 8 mile recovery run around Pre’s Trail and the surrounding bike paths.  We got to experience the true Oregon weather (cold and rainy) for the last day we were in town.  Afterwards, we walked up to Hayward to watch our freshman Aaron Kauffman run in the morning sections of the 800 meters.  He ran 1:52.93, which qualifies him for Junior Nationals this summer.  After his race, we headed back to the hotel and checked out around noon.  We had some time to kill, so we took some pictures by Pre’s memorial rock (since we forgot the cameras the first time) and drove around Eugene.  We also went into the Nike store where they had a pair of Pre’s Nike spikes as well as some other memorabilia.  At 2 p.m., we headed back to the track to watch some more races and waited for Chase Eckard to run in the third fastest section of the 800.  Immediately after the race, we got in the van and drove back to Seattle to catch the red-eye flight back to Charlotte.

Overall, I thought Oregon was an amazing running atmosphere.  Hayward Field definitely lived up to its reputation.  The fans would clap in unison, ring bells, and they even had a drum line playing during all the distance races.  My teammates and I were also very impressed with how friendly everybody was and how much they loved running. 

I can see now why Eugene is called “Tracktown, USA.”  I am extremely grateful that my coach allowed me the opportunity to travel across the country to run against some of the top runners in the nation and to experience such a historic place.