Elite Northwest runners and throwers tested themselves against Olympic-caliber competition this weekend in Eugene. Some athletes found the experience sobering, while others drew encouragement with about two months to go before the Summer Olympics.
The Prefontaine Classic is typically the most competitive track meet of the year on American soil. This year, many of the start lists read like a preview of this summer's London Games. That's why Portland distance running prodigy Galen Rupp was pleased by a top three finish in the 5000 meters (12:58.9; 3rd place). Same for Boise native Nick Symmonds in the half mile (1:44.32 for 3rd place).
"I wanted to prove to myself that I am in that kind of shape. I still got a bit of sharpening work to do. I think I can run a touch faster at the Trials if need be," Symmonds says.
Others local athletes had their confidence shaken. 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating of Eugene finished last against international competition in the mile.
"This is the most bitter feeling that I have ever felt. I just want to go curl up and think this one through, think this through and be fine, but we don't have time for that," Wheating says.
American competitors return to historic Hayward Field soon. Later this month, the self-described "TrackTownUSA" hosts the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field.