Eugene Fatigue? Thoughts On Another U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon

By Kyle Merber

September 27, 2023

Have you ever heard so many people upset that they won’t be visiting Iowa next summer? In what is a surprise to absolutely no one with a pulse, the 2024 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials are heading back to Eugene from June 21 to June 30. Although it was only just announced last Thursday, it has been assumed long enough by anyone who needs to be there that they (re: we) already booked all of the good/refundable AirBnBs. Sorry, track fans – should have started a newsletter!

Now I am not necessarily jumping on the covered wagon of all you folks complaining about the return to Oregon. It doesn’t bother me if the Trials are there. It’s more that every meet of consequence is also there. If the US Championships were in different locations for non-Olympic years, then making the pilgrimage would actually be an endearing quadrennial event. The Hayward fatigue that many of us feel is due to a lack of opportunities to visit other American college towns!

In the interest of trying to be solution-oriented, however, there are realistically not many other facilities that are fit to host a competition of this scale. Thousands of facilities all across this massive country of ours are prepared to host a dual meet, but the logistics at the level of a national championship simply demand way more.

Right now World Athletics lists seven “Class 1” and seven “Class 2” facilities in the United States that would be eligible. There are almost certainly other spots that would be eligible for certification, but WA is pretty intensive, expensive, and specific in its requirements. Assuming there was a local organizing committee that desperately wanted to host (if this is you, please email me!) when excluding places with unspeakably miserable summer weather, it’s not like there is an obvious, non-Eugene location that hasn’t already been considered.

It would be great to have it in Los Angeles or New York. Just be careful what you wish for. If you think Eugene is expensive then good luck Ubering back and forth over the RFK bridge twice a day and spending $24 on a couple of eggs at a Midtown diner.

Let’s instead focus on what we can do in the immediate future! Lower the ticket prices to offset the price-gouging of hotels and airlines so the stadium will be full and the experience will be worth the risk of dysentery.

And to close out this section, I’m going to repeat myself for the ten thousandth time. THIS MEET DOES NOT NEED TO BE NINE DAYS LONG. Arguing about the length of Worlds/the Olympics is one thing – there are admittedly a lot of countries! But the US Championships is routinely squeezed into four days in non-cycle years, so it can – and should – be done here, too. And I’m willing to compromise for six days.

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Kyle Merber

After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.