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The Party Scene In Eugene
by Scott Anderson
(Don't Know Scott? Read more about him here.)

Robert and Weldon determined that their site had lost some of its edge of late, so they decided to do some offbeat features.  Hence the article on Chris Gansen (which was a joke for all of you people who believed it),and now they've asked me to write an article on the party scene in Eugene during the GMC Envoy US Championships.

The highlights of the USA national meet every year may be on the track, but a close second is the party scene. So I've decided to do a brief recap of what went on in Eugene:

Day 1: Thursday night:
Pre-party:
At close to midnight, Matt Holthaus (teammate 1500 meter runner), Brendan Rogers (another teammate and 1500 meter runner) and I head out to the Johnson brothers, at the Doubletree.  Though still recovering from his 3 hour long drug test (thanks to having run the 10k in 80+ degree heat), Weldon should be ready to celebrate his incredible 10k performance.  We walk into the room - looks like a whirlwind hit it.  Newspapers, computer cables, USATF literature and unopened packages (from the sponsors wooing Weldon) litter the floor. Such is the life of an internet entrepreneur.  Usually eager to capitalize on his status as Weldon's twin, Robert shows surprising restraint and dedication to the website by volunteering to stay in to upload pictures, knowing that the East-coast LetsRun readers will be logged on well past 4 am anxiously awaiting these brilliant shots of Alan Webb leaning against a fence, sitting down stretching, and posing in any other position you can imagine.   Our fellow 1500m runner, Drew Griffin from the ATL, (who by the way, closed that first heat just as fast as Downin and Webb, but was a second back at the gun and ended up a close 4th) calls and gives us the update on the party situation.  Jamie Harris (who else?) has told him that a group is gathering at some bar (name??) near the campus.  Weldon impatiently gives Robert detailed instructions on how to use the Photoshop software, and then we hit the town in our Ford Escort rental car (yeah, we travel in style).

We arrive at the bar and discover the following:
Male/Ratio: 30/2 (The coincidence of several factors conspired to produce this abysmal ratio:

  1. The trials of the women's steeplechase is the only female event that has been completed.
  2. Most female athletes are either married or in serious relationships (why elite male athletes are so much more likely to be single is the topic of much debate.  The most plausible theory (though hardly politically correct and hardly without exceptions), I think, is that  female runners need control, discipline and stability in their lives to succeed: a relationship provides this.  For guys, the motivation to succeed and desire to show off are more important determinants of success than a stable lifestyle.)
  3. There are no female track fans.

Fastest person in attendance: Rod DeHaven (2000 Olympic Marathoner)
Most applauded person in attendance: Ryan Shea (recent Notre Dame grad who won the 10k at NCAAs and was the recipient of multiple toasts from Chris Benet (Farm Teamer from CBA and UNC).
True Champion award: The guys from Sporthill, who bought pitchers for anyone claiming to know Ryan Shea.
Lowlight #2 for me (lowlight #1 for me was my trial race, in which I failed to make the finals): One of two aforementioned females turns down my offer of a beer (maybe she knew I had taken it from the Sporthill pitcher).
Highlight #2 for Weldon (highlight #1 for Weldon was his race, obviously): The same female who turned down my beer offer approached Weldon and asked him, "Are you Weldon Johnson? I saw you in Running Times."
Overall rating: C-.  Guess things have to start off slow - this party atmosphere was a little too low key for those of us who were either frustrated or looking to celebrate.

Day #2 -Friday night:
Pre-party:
Post steeple chase trials.  We're rolling in the Escort, once again.  As we pull up to the stop light, a booming bass kick penetrates our closed window.  To our right idles a big Mitsubishi Montero.  Isn't this the SUV that just failed the Consumer Reports safety test?   (Yes, I've been watching way too much TV over the past week.)  In the driver seat sits none other than Maurice Greene.  Perhaps sensing our collective stares, he turns and acknowledges us (as fans or fellow-athletes, I'm still not sure) with a nod and a sly smile.  Can you say photo op? We roll down the window and ask him to hold up for a minute while we get the digital camera ready for a LetsRun.com photo.  Angelo Taylor leans over from the passenger side and tries to get in on the action.  You'd think the novelty of being a celebrity would wear off for these guys, and that they'd blow us off.  But maybe they want to be part of the LetsRun juggernaut.  (Or maybe they're feeling a little desperate for attention after watching the groupies swamp the high school phenoms Ritz and Webb.)   Weldon points and shoots, and they zoom off.  As you can see from looking at the right, he should have let Robert take the shot

The Rapids Yesterday, as Weldon, Robert and I run towards Pre's trails, I saw some people hanging out in the relatively fast flowing Willamette River.  For some reason, I always feel the obligation to go swimming in any reasonably clean body of water I come across.  So when I see Darrin Schearer (1500 meter competitor), I'm reminded of his taste for adventure (5 years ago, he took Chris Lear (author of Running With The Buffaloes and mine and Robert's college roommate) and me cliff-jumping in some stone quarries north of Boston).  I pull over and ask him if he wants to go swimming in the River.   He's already done it of course, but he likes company and is game to try it again.  You know how with some accomplished people, you become self-conscious about your own mediocrity, which just exacerbates your own defiency?   If I'm around a real good joke-teller or an articulate type, I subconsciously compare myself to her and act shyer and more tongue-tied than I really am.  So if I'm around a real risk-taker like Darrin, I might feel even more like a wimp than I really am.  But with Darrin, it's different.  Something about Darrin inspires confidence.  Rather than making me self-conscious about how unspontaneous and adventure-deficient I am (another accomplishment on his adventure resume is his getting a speeding ticket rollerblading down a mountain this, on his first day rollerblading), Darrin's attitude is contagious. Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't make a big deal about his feats. He tells us to keep our feet out in front so that we don't knock ourselves out on any of the submerged rocks.  He walks a bit upstream from us so that he can float the section of rapids, and, without hesitation, jumps in.  As he approaches us, he tells us to jump in and, like lemmings, we obey.   I sink immediately, but Darrin ably pulls me to the surface and the three of us Darrin disciples holler with glee as we cruise by amazed spectators.  The next time, we all throw caution to the wind and enter above the rapids. We're hooked.  This is the way to kick off our Friday evening.

Dinner at Track-house pizza.  John Clemens (steeplechaser) joins us and we reminisce about the Heps glory days. Darrin and I toast to retirement.  We talk about moving on with our lives after this frustrating season.   I'm going to the University of Chicago next year for b-school and he's entered the engineering school at University of Florida.  What a place to be as a married man - his wife Diedre studies psychology there.   I remember going there spring break my sophomore year for the Florida Relays.  Chris Lear's buddy Mike Mykotok (a former USATF 10k champ himself) from Jersey had just graduated and was hosting the naked relays party (which Lear, Alex Hastings, Jack Walter and I won possibly by default, as I don't know if anyone else put together a full team).  Twelve kegs and enough people in attendance to finish them.  I distinctly remember standing in the middle of this party seven years ago with my teammates Lear and Alex Kolovyansky. We simultaneously looked up at each other, all thinking the same thing.  Kolo spoke for all of us when he asked, "Why do we go to school in New Jersey?

Next stop, a party near campus, hosted by the hospitable Ken (???).   Good times hanging out with the running community, but I'm not feeling the party-vibe.  Maybe I'm going through Chris Greer (Scott's Enclave teammate and fellow 1500 meter runner) withdrawal, as he decided to head back East after failing to get the qualifying time for USATF in Sacramento last weekend.   The Griff dawg calls a few times to keep me posted on the developing party scene at Joggers (tonight's designated - once again, by Jamie Harris - venue, a bar called Joggers).   As I urge the Johnsons to head out with me, I realize I've become one of those annoying types who spends 90% of their time out hemming and hawing about where they should go next and who's supposed to meet them later.  Isn't that defeating the purpose of going out?   General inertia and another sighting of the beatiful woman who said "hi" to Weldon last night at first conspire to thwart my efforts to rally the troops, but upon mystery woman's disappearance and hearing that she may have gone to Joggers, we set sail.

Day 2 Party Location: Jogger's (Bar in Eugene)
Male/Female Ration: 3/2
(Much better than the night before)
Fastest Person in Attendance: Abdi Abdirahman
Biggest Athlete in Attendance: Adam Nelson,
Silver Medalist at 2000 Olympics in Shot Put
Scene: Karaoke Bar.  Things were definitely happening Friday night as the partying got going full swing as more athletes were done with their events and more spectators were in town since it was the weekend.
MVP of the evening:  Not only is Adam Nelson the funniest and most athletically accomplished guy at the bar, but he can converse intelligently about art, foreign affairs, economics, and he's taking acting classes.  Can you say Renaissance man?  And as if that weren't enough, he had by far the best karaoke performance of the evening (can anyone name the song he two-stepped to?)
Other highlights:  Weldon Johnson finds out the name of dream-woman.
Boldest moments:   Jason Gibbons (steeplechaser), surprisingly melodic (and appropriate) solo rendition of Beck's loser.
Prior to a lovely karaoke duet of super freak with Abdi Abdirahman, Andre Williams (5k runner who happens to be African American) takes the mike and declares his appreciation of Eugene and of white women.
Lowlights: $10 all you can drink beer special ended before most people got there.

  • Unnamed 2000 Olympian dropping his pants and showing off his bare ass to bar patrons leaving at the end of the night.
  • Concussions suffered by various future Farm Teamers, who were victims of their future teammate Jason Gibbons, affectionate headbutts.
  • Rojo tries to hit on a woman who is clearly infatuated with Weldon (sorry Robert, you're not in college anymore.)
    Overall Rating: B+.  Things were definitely happening...

Day 3: Saturday night:  Club Diablo
Location: near the Hilton
Male/Female Ration: 3:1
Fastest Person in Attendance: Andy Downin
fresh off his upset victory in the 1500
Others in Attendance: the Loyola Chicago track team girls, Jamie Harris, Mark Anderson (my brother), Rebecca Ruff.
Scene: Dance club.....
Highlights:
Deena Drossin double-fisting Irish carbombs.

Chris Benet lecturing a certain LetsRun contributor on why he should continued devoting himself to running and shouldn't go to Chicago next year for b-school.

Lowlights: 

  1. a certain Olympian walking in and within 5 minutes ruining Jon John Clemens, 2 hours time investment.  Was it the charm or the 3:35, or are they one and the same? 
  2. The Johnsons showing up about fifteen minutes before the bar closes (of course, their unfashionably late entrance had nothing to do with their executive website responsibilities; rather, they were having trouble escaping the groupies that had finally found out what hotel they were staying at), and then spend their entire time watching strangers play pool because they are too cheap to put up $3 each to join the dance-party downstairs.

To recap the entire party scene, Friday night definitely was the highlight. Things could scarcely have been better other than the fact that I shouldn't have even been out that night as I ideally would have qualified for Saturday's finals. I think in the future USATF should schedule all of the distance events on he same day and make them all a straight final, that way other athletes like myself won't be tempted to get eliminated early to enjoy the party scene. 

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